Skip to main content

Full text of "The life of Benjamin Franklin; containing the autobiography, with notes and a continuation"

See other formats










•y\ \ 





W. : 5? 







t^p y. 


( r;^m;w^WW p '^^' 






my&yy'+m ; 


: ^X5{; :' 

.----_.' '/-'"'^J'' 


S^wv -''^ V - ^ ^ " & 




aUii f #^v ; T ; 






siii^msiiisf wm/Am hhd& 


TTKin Mtrti 


m£ttdATf\ : l : i x \ FftAfltt'Wft, 

t M 



raxeszear- czrcumspzl 'TioN-CAUTm 

JUL 131989 

114 wasiniEWS stmeew. 










His country's friend, but more of human kind." 




Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight 
hundred and forty, by Hilliard, Gray, and Company, in the Clerk's 
Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 





This volume contains the Autobiography of Dr. 
Franklin as far as he wrote it, with a Continuation 
to the end of his life. 

There is a curious circumstance connected with the 
first publication of the Autobiography. He began to 
write it in England as early as the year 1771, and 
from time to time he made such additions as his leisure 
would permit. While he was in France, as Minister 
Plenipotentiary from the United States, he showed a 
copy of it to some of his friends there, and one of 
them, M. Le Veillard, translated it into French. Not 
long after Dr. Franklin's death, this French translation 
appeared from the Paris press. It was then retrans- 
lated, by some unknown but skilful hand, into English, 
and published in London ; and this retranslation is 
the Life of Franklin, which has usually been circu- 
lated in Great Britain and the United States, and 
of which numerous editions have been printed. And 
even to this day it continues to be read, and to be 
quoted by respectable writers, as if it were the au- 
thor's original work; although the fact of its being a 
translation is expressly stated in the Preface to the first 
edition, and although twenty-five years have elapsed 


since the Autobiography was published from the original 
manuscript, by Franklin's grandson. In the present 
volume it is printed from the genuine copy. Notes 
have been added to illustrate some parts, and the 
whole is divided into chapters, of suitable length, for 
the convenience of readers. 

In writing the Continuation, it has been the au- 
thor's aim to follow out the plan of the Autobiography, 
by confining himself strictly to a narrative of the prin- 
cipal events and incidents in Franklin's life, as far as 
these could be ascertained from his writings, his public 
acts, and the testimony of his contemporaries. In 
executing this task, he has had access to a large mass 
of papers left by Franklin, including his correspondence 
with many persons in various parts of the world, and 
also to copious materials, of muph value, procured in 
England, France, and the United States, all of which 
were for several years in his possession, while he was 
preparing for the press a new and complete edition 
of Franklin's Works. As he has spared no pains in 
his researches, or in his endeavours to make their results 
useful to the public, he trusts that his efforts have not 
been wholly without success, and that they will be 
regarded as having added something to the tribute 
justly due to the memory of the philosopher, states- 
man, and philanthropist, whose fame is an honor not 
more to the land of his birth, than to the age in which 
he lived. 

November, 1843. 




Origin and Genealogy of his Family. — His Birth. — His Mother. — 
Employments in his Boyhood. — Anecdote. — Character of his 
Father. — Epitaph on his Father and Mother. — Fond of reading. 
■ — Apprenticed to his Brother to learn the Printer's Trade. — 
Writes Ballads. — Intimacy with Collins. — Practises Composition. 

— Adopts a vegetable Diet. — Studies the Socratic Method of 
Disputation. — Concerned in publishing a Newspaper. — Disa- 
grees with his Brother. — Leaves Boston and takes Passage in a 
Sloop for New York. 1 


Journey to Philadelphia. — Adventure in a Boat. — Dr. Brown. — 
Burlington. — His first Appearance in Philadelphia. — Quaker 
Meeting. — Seeks for Employment as a Printer. — Commences 
Work in Keimer's Office. — Forms Acquaintances. — Patronized 
by Sir William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania. — First Inter- 
view with him. — Keith proposes to set him up in Business. — 
Returns to Boston. — His Father disapproves Keith's Plan. — 
Voyage to New York. — Incident on the Passage from Newport. 

— Meets his Friend Collins in New York. — They go together to 
Philadelphia. — Collins's ill Conduct causes a Separation. — Keith 
insists on executing his original Plan, and proposes sending him 
to London to purchase Types. — Returns to the Use of animal 
Food. — Anecdotes of Keimer. — His Associates, Osborne, Wat- 

VOL. I. d C 


son, Ralph. — Their Exercises in Composition. — Resolves to visit 
England, as advised by Governor Keith. . . . . .29 


Sails for London, accompanied by Ralph. — On his Arrival delivers 
Letters supposed to be written by the Governor. — Discovers that 
'Keith had deceived him. — His Money exhausted. — Engages to 
work as a Printer at Palmer's, in Bartholomew Close. — Writes 
and prints a metaphysical Tract. — Frequents a Club, consisting 
of Dr. Mandeville and Others. — Disagreement with Ralph and 
Separation. — Removes to Watts's Printing-house, near Lincoln's 
Inn Fields. — Habits of the Workmen. — His Expenses of Living. 

— Feats of Activity in Swimming. — Enters into Mercantile Bus- 
iness with Mr. Denham. — Sir William Wyndham. ... 53 


Voyage from London to Philadelphia. — His Mercantile Plans de- 
feated by the Death of Mr. Denham. — Accepts an Offer from 
Keimer to superintend his Printing Establishment. — Description 
of the Workmen in the Printing-house. — Resolves to separate 
from Keimer, and commence Business on his own Account. — 
Engraves the Plates for Paper Money in New Jersey, and prints 
the Bills. — His Views of Religion. — Account of his London 
Pamphlet. — A New Version of the Lord's Prayer, with Explan- 
atory Remarks. — Forms a Partnership with Hugh Meredith in 
the Printing Business. 67 


The Junto. — Description of its original Members. — Franklin writes 
the "Busy Body." — Establishes a Newspaper. — Partnership with 
Meredith dissolved. — Writes a Tract on the Necessity of a Paper 
Currency. — Opens a Stationer's Shop. — His Habits of Industry 
and Frugality. — Courtship. — Marriage 81 


Origin of the Philadelphia Library. — Mode of obtaining Subscrip- 
tions. — Thrives in his Business. — Anecdote of the Silver Spoon 
and China Bowl. — Religious Sentiments and Remarks on Preach- 
ing. — Scheme for arriving at Moral Perfection, — Explanation of 
the Scheme. — List of Virtues enumerated, and Rules for Prac- 
tising them. — Division of Time, and the Occupation of each Hour. 

— Amusing Anecdote. — The Art of Virtue. — A Treatise on 
that Subject proposed. 98 



Scheme of a Society for extending the Influence of Virtue. — Belief 
in one God, the Immortality of the Soul, and future Rewards and 
Punishments. — Poor Richard's Almanac. — Rules for conducting 
a Newspaper. — Controversy concerning Hemphill, the Preach- 
er. — Studies the French, Italian, and Spanish Languages. — Visits 
Boston. — The Junto. — Chosen Clerk of the Assembly. — Ap- 
pointed Postmaster of Philadelphia. — Suggests Improvements in 
the City Watch. — Establishes a Fire Company. . . .118 


Forms an Intimacy with Whitefield. — Building erected for Preach- 
ers of all Denominations. — Character of Whitefield, his Oratory 
and Writings. — Partnerships in the Printing Business. — Propos- 
es a Philosophical Society. — Takes an active Part in providing 
Means of Defence in the Spanish War. — Forms an Association 
for that Purpose. — Sentiments of the Quakers. — James Logan. 
— Anecdote of William Penn. — The Sect called Dunkers. — Re- 
ligious Creeds. — New-invented Fireplace 136 


Proposals relating to the Education of Youth.— Subscriptions for that 
Object. — An Academy established. — Appointed one of the Trus- 
tees for managing it. — Partnership with David Hall. — Electrical 
Experiments. — Chosen a Member of the Assembly. — A Com- 
missioner for making a Treaty with the Indians. — Pennsylvania 
Hospital. — Writes in Favor of it, and procures Subscriptions. — 
Advice to Gilbert Tennent. — Suggests Plans for cleaning, paving, 
and lighting the Streets of Philadelphia. — Project for cleaning 
the Streets of London. — Appointed Postmaster-general for Amer- 
ica. — Receives the Degree of Master of Arts from Harvard and 
Yale Colleges 158 


Attends a General Convention at Albany, as a Delegate from Penn- 
sylvania. — Proposes a Plan of Union for the Colonies, which is 
adopted by the Convention. — Interview with Governor Shirley 
at Boston. — Conversations with Governor Morris on Pennsylvania 
Affairs. — Assists Mr. Quincy in procuring Aids for New Eng- 
land> — Visits General Braddock's Army in Maryland. — Procures 
Horses and Wagons to facilitate the March of the Army. — Ob- 
tains Supplies for the Officers. — Character of Braddock. — Ac- 
count of his Defeat in the Battle of the Monongahela. — Braddock 



commends his Services in Letters to the Government. — These 
Services poorly rewarded. — Society for the Relief and Instruction 
of Germans in Pennsylvania 176 


Appointed One of the Commissioners for appropriating the public 
• Money for military Defence. — Proposes a Militia Bill, which pass- 
es the Assembly. — Commissioned to take Charge of the Frontier, 
and build a Line of Forts. — Marches at the Head of a Body of 
Troops. — Account of the March. — Operations at Gnadenhutten. 
— Indian Massacres. — Moravians at Bethlehem. — Returns to 
Philadelphia. — Chosen Colonel of a Regiment. — Journey to Vir- 
ginia. — Declines accepting the Governor's Proposal to lead an 
Expedition against Fort Duquesne. — Account of his Electrical 
Discoveries. — Chosen a Member of the Royal Society. — Receives 
the Copley Medal . .196 


Conversations with Governor Denny. — Disputes between the Gov- 
ernor and Assembly. — Deputed by the Assembly to present a Pe- 
tition to the King, and to act in England as an Agent for Penn- 
sylvania. — Meets Lord Loudoun in New York. — Anecdotes illus- 
trating his Character. — Sails from New York. — Incidents of the 
Voyage. — Arrives in England 214 




State of Affairs in Pennsylvania. — Defects of the Government. — 
Legislation. — Conduct of the Proprietaries. — Object of Franklin's 
Agency in England. — Collinson, Miss Stevenson, Strahan, Gov- 
ernor Shirley, Beccaria, Musschenbroek. — Franklin's Interview 
with the Proprietaries. — He causes a Letter to be published re- 
specting Pennsylvania. — Delays in his public Business. — He 
travels in various Parts of England. — Visits the Place in which 
his Ancestors were born. — Forms an Acquaintance with Bas- 
kerville. — Publishes the "Historical Review of Pennsylvania." — 
Authorship of that Work 229 



Franklin advises the Conquest of Canada. — His Scheme adopted by 
the Ministry. — Journey to Scotland. — Lord Kames, Robertson, 
Hume. — " Parable against Persecution." — First published by 
Lord Kames. — How far Franklin claimed to be its Author. — His 
Mission brought to a favorable Termination. — Lord Mansfield's 
Agency in the Affair. — Franklin's Sentiments in Regard to Can- 
ada, — Writes a Pamphlet to show that it ought to be retained at 
the Peace. — Tour to the North of England. — Receives Public 
Money for Pennsylvania. — Tour in Holland. — Experiments to 
prove the Electrical Properties of Tourmalin. — Cold produced 
by Evaporation. — Ingenious Theory for explaining the Causes 
of Northeast Storms. — Invents a Musical Instrument, called the 
Armonica. — His Son appointed Governor of New Jersey. — Re- 
turns to America. 247 


Receives the Thanks of the Assembly. — Tour through the Middle 
and Eastern Colonies. — Engages again in Public Affairs. — Mas- 
sacre of Indians in Lancaster. — Franklin's Pamphlet on the Sub- 
ject, and his Agency in pacifying the Insurgents. — Colonel Bou- 
quet's Account of his Public Services. — Disputes revived between 
the Governor and the Assembly. — Militia Bill defeated. — The 
Governor rejects a Bill in which the Proprietary Estates are taxed. 
— The Assembly resolve to petition the King for a Change of Gov- 
ernment. — Petition drafted by Franklin. — Chosen Speaker of the 
Assembly. — Norris, Dickinson, Galloway. — Scheme for Stamp 
Duties opposed by the Assembly. — Franklin is not elected to the 
Assembly. — Appointed Agent to the Court of Great Britain. — 
Sails for England 270 


Origin of the Stamp Act. — Franklin's Opposition to it. — His Re- 
marks on the Passage of the Act, in a Letter to Charles Thomson. 

— False Charges against him in Relation to this Subject — Dean 
Tucker. — Effects of the Stamp Act in America. — Franklin's Ex- 
amination before Parliament. — Stamp Act repealed. — Mr. Pitt. — 
Declaratory Act. — American Paper Currency. — Franklin's An- 
swer to Lord Hillsborough's Report against it. — New Scheme 
for taxing the Colonies by supplying them with Paper Money. — 
Franklin travels in Holland and Germany. — His Ideas of the Na- 
ture of the Union between the Colonies and Great Britain. — Plan 
of a Colonial Representation in Parliament. — Franklin visits Paris. 

— His "Account of the Causes of the American Discontents." — 
Change of Ministry. — Lord Hillsborough at the Head of the 


. American Department. — Rumor that Dr. Franklin was to have an 
Office under him. 290 


Dr. Franklin is appointed Agent for Georgia. — Causes the "Farmer's 
Letters " .to be republished in London. — His Opinion of them. — 

• Chosen President of the American Philosophical Society. — Pro- 
motes the Culture of Silk in Pennsylvania. — Encourages his Coun- 
trymen to adhere to their Non-importation Agreements, — Journey 
to France. — Appointed Agent for New Jersey. — His Answers 
to Mr. Strahan's Queries. — Repeal of some of the American Rev- 
enue Acts. — Intimations that he would be removed from Office. — 
His Remarks on that Subject. — Chosen Agent for the Assembly 
of Massachusetts. — Singular Interview with Lord Hillsborough. — 
Objectionable Footing on which the Colonial Agents were placed 
by his Lordship. — Dr. Franklin makes a Tour through the North 
of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. — His Reception by 
Lord Hillsborough in Ireland. — Irish Parliament. — Richard Bache. 

— Bishop of St. Asaph. . . . . . . . .316 


Dr. Franklin meditates a Return to America. — Singular Conduct of 
Lord Hillsborough. — Walpole's Grant. — Hillsborough's Report 
against it. — Franklin's Answer. — Reasons for settling a New 
Colony west of the Alleganies. — Interview with Lord Hills- 
borough at Oxford. — Franklin draws up the Report of a Commit- 
tee appointed to examine the Powder Magazines at Purfleet. — 
Performs new Electrical Experiments. — Controversy about Point- 
ed and Blunt Conductors. — Lord Dartmouth succeeds Lord Hills- 
borough. — His Character. — Franklin's Interview with him. — Pe- 
titions from the Assembly of Massachusetts. — Franklin writes a 
Preface to the London Edition of the Boston Resolutions; also 
" Rules for reducing a Great Empire to a Small One," and " An 
Edict of the King of Prussia." — Abridges the Book of Common 
Prayer. — Experiments to show the Effect of Oil in smoothing 
Waves. — Dubourg's Translation of his Writings. . . . 337 


Hutchinson's Letters. — How they first became known to Franklin. 

— His Motives for transmitting them to Massachusetts. — Proceed- 
ings of the Assembly concerning them. — Dr. Cooper's Remarks 
on that Occasion. — Petition for the Removal of Hutchinson and 
Oliver presented by Franklin. — Duel between Temple and Whate- 
ly. _ Franklin's Declaration that the Letters had been transmitted 
by him. — Whately commences against him a Chancery Suit. — 


Proceedings of the Privy Council on the Petition. — Further Ac- 
count of those Proceedings. — Wedderburn's abusive Speech. — 
The Petition rejected. — Franklin dismissed from his Place at the 
Head of the American Postoffice. 356 


Franklin remains in England to await the Result of the Continental 
Congress. — Josiah Quincy, Junior. — Anecdotes. — Death of Dr. 
Franklin's Wife. — Family Incidents. — He receives and presents 
the Petition of Congress. — Rejected by Parliament. — Galloway's 
Plan of Union. — Franklin's Attempts to promote a Reconciliation 
between the two Countries. — Visits Lord Chatham. — Remarks 
on Independence. — Mrs. Howe. — He draws up Articles as the 
Basis of a Negotiation, at the Request of Dr. Fothergill and Mr. 
Barclay. — Interviews with Lord Howe respecting some Mode of 
Reconciliation. — He drafts another Paper for that Purpose. — Lord 
Camden. — Lord Chatham's Motion in Parliament. — Franklin's 
Interviews with him in forming a Plan of Reconciliation. — This 
Plan offered to Parliament, and rejected. — Negotiation resumed 
and broken off. — Franklin sails from England and arrives in 
Philadelphia 371 


Chosen a Member of Congress. — Proceedings of Congress. — Prep- 
arations for Military Defence. — Petition to the King. — Franklin 
assists in preparing for the Defence of Pennsylvania, as a Member 
of the Committee of Safety. — Drafts a Plan of Confederation. — 

' His Services in Congress. — Goes to the Camp at Cambridge on 
a Committee from Congress. — Chosen a Member of the Pennsyl- 
vania Assembly. — Writes Letters to Europe for the Committee 
of Secret Correspondence. — His Journey to Canada as a Com- 
missioner from Congress. — Declaration of Independence. — An- 
ecdotes. — President of the Convention of Pennsylvania for form- 
ing a Constitution. — His Opinion of a Single Legislative Assem- 
bly. — His Correspondence with Lord Howe, and Interview with 
him on Staten Island. — Appointed a Commissioner to the Court 
of Versailles. — Lends Money to Congress. .... 393 


Voyage to France. — Arrives at Nantes. — Proceeds to Paris, and 
takes up his Residence at Passy. — His Reception in France. — 
Influence of his Name and Character. — Pictures, Busts, and Prints 
of him. — Interview with Count de Vergennes. — Money obtained 
from the French Court, and Military Supplies sent to the United 
States. — Contract with the Farmers-General. — Franklin disap- 
proves the Policy of seeking Alliances with the European Powers. 


— Lord Stormont. — Application of Foreign Officers for Employ- 
ment in the American Army. — Lafayette. — Reasons why the 
French delay to enter into a Treaty with the United States. — 
Interview with Count de Vergennes on that Subject. — Treaty of 
Amity and Commerce. — Treaty of Alliance. — Franklin and the 
other Commissioners introduced at Court. . . . . . 417 


Preparations for War between France and England. — M. Gerard. — 
Mr. John Adams. — Secret Advances made to Dr. Franklin for 
effecting a Reconciliation between England and the United States. 

— Mr. Hutton. — Mr. Pulteney. — Mr. Hartley. — An Emissary 
in Disguise. — Franklin's personal Friends in Paris. — Interview 
with Voltaire. — Franklin appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the 
Court of France. — Machinations of his Enemies to procure his 
Recall. — Mr. Arthur Lee. — Mr. Ralph Izard. — Visit of Sir Wil- 
liam Jones to Paris. — Franklin instructs the American Cruisers 
not to seize Captain Cook's Vessel. — Grants Passports to Vessels 
carrying Supplies to the Moravian Missionaries on the Coast of Lab- 
rador. — Paul Jones. — The Marquis de Lafayette. — Mr. Vaughan's 
Edition of Franklin's Political and Miscellaneous Writings. . 438 


A French Army sent to the United States. — Lafayette. ■ — Northern 
Powers of Europe combine in Defence of Neutrals. — Franklin's 
Opinion of Privateering. — Correspondence between Count de 
Vergennes and Mr. Adams. — Franklin's Remarks upon it. — 
Charges against Franklin by his Enemies, examined and refuted. 

— New Attempt in Congress to procure his Recall. — Count de 
Vergennes's Opinion of him as Minister at the French Court. — 
The numerous Duties of his Office. — Colonel John Laurens. — 
Franklin proposes to retire from the Public Service. — New Prop- 
ositions for Peace, through the Agency of Mr. Hartley. — Frank- 
lin's Answer to them. — His Friends at Passy and Auteuil. — 
Madame Brillon. — Madame Helvetius. ..... 459 


Negotiations for Peace. — Debates on the Subject in the British 
Parliament. — Change of Ministry. — Mr. Oswald sent to Paris to 
consult Dr. Franklin on the Mode of Negotiating. — Grenville's 
Commission ; disapproved by Franklin. — Mr. Fox's Views of In- 
dependence. — Lord Shelburne's Administration. — Mr. Fitzher- 
bert. — Mr. Oswald commissioned to negotiate the American Trea- 
ty. — Essential Articles of the Treaty proposed by Franklin. — 
Advisable Articles. — Mr. Jay disapproves Mr. Oswald's Com- 
mission. — An Alteration required and obtained. — Progress of 


the Treaty. — Independence, Boundaries, Fisheries. — Attempts 
of the British Ministry to secure the Indemnification of the Loy- 
alists. — Mr. Adams joins his Colleagues and resists the British 
Claims. — Franklin proposes an Article for Indemnifying the 
Americans for their Losses during the War. — British Claims 
relinquished. — ■ Treaty signed. — Ratified by Congress. . . 474 


Treaty signed without the Knowledge of the Court of France. — 
— Count de Vergennes's Opinion of the Treaty. — Unfounded Sus- 
picions. — Rayneval and Marbois. — Franklin's Explanation of the 
Grounds upon which he acted. — False Rumor concerning his Ex- 
ertions in obtaining the Boundaries and Fisheries. — His Financial 
Contract with Count de Vergennes. — Negotiates a Treaty with 
Sweden. — Mr. Hartley. — Definitive Treaty of Peace signed. — 
Franklin's Sentiments on this Occasion. — Animal Magnetism.— 
Negotiations. — His Request to be recalled is finally granted by 
Congress. — Treaty with Prussia. — Franklin prepares to return 
Home. — Journey from Passy to Havre de Grace. — Sails from 
Southampton and arrives in Philadelphia. .... 48& 


Receives congratulatory Letters and Addresses. — Chosen President 
of Pennsylvania, and holds the Office three Years. — His private 
Circumstances. — Appointed a Delegate to the Convention for 
Framing the Constitution of the United States. — His Speeches in 
the Convention. ■ — His Religious Opinions. — Extracts from Dr. 
Cutler's Journal describing an Interview with him. — President of 
the Society for Political Inquiries. — Neglect of Congress to exam- 
ine and settle his Accounts. — Various Pieces written by him dur- 
ing the last Year of his Life. —His Illness and Death. — Funeral 
Ceremonies. — Tribute of Respect paid to him by Congress and 
other Public Bodies. — Conclusion 511 


I. Remarks on the Origin and Genealogy of the Franklin Family, 539 
II. Journal of a Voyage from London to Philadelphia, . . 547 

III. Proposals relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, 569 

IV. American Philosophical Society, ..... 576 
V. Extracts from a Private Journal, .... 579 

VI. Extracts from a Private Journal, .... 587 

VII. Proceedings of Congress, and of the National Assembly of 

France, on the Death of Franklin, . . . . 592 

VIII. Epitaph, .596 

IX. Franklin's Will, . ■ . . . . . .599 


Portrait of Franklin, at the age of twenty-four, frontispiece 

The Game of Chess title-page 

Copy of a Medal presented to Franklin by the 

Royal Society of London, 1753 page 175 

Portrait of Mrs. Franklin . . 229 

Portrait of Franklin, by Martin, at sixty years 

OF AGE 300 

Facsimile of Franklin's Handwriting 392 

Houdon's Bust of Franklin 421 

Portrait of Franklin, by Duplessis 489 

NOTE. — The references in this volume to Franklin's writings 
are to Mr. Sparks 's edition of his Works. 











Origin and Genealogy of his Family. — His Birth. — His Mother. — 
Employments in his Boyhood. — Anecdote. — Character of his Father. 
— Epitaph on his Father and Mother. — Fond of reading. — Appren- 
ticed to his Brother to learn the Printer's Trade. — Writes Ballads. — 
Intimacy with Collins. — Practises Composition. - — Adopts a vegetable 
Diet. — Studies the Socratic Method of Disputation. — Concerned in 
publishing a Newspaper. — Disagrees with his Brother. — Leaves Bos- 
ton and takes Passage in a Sloop for New York. 

I have ever had a pleasure in obtaining any little 
anecdotes of my ancestors. You may remember the 
inquiries I made among the remains of my relations, 
when you were with me in England, and the journey 
I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be 
equally agreeable to you to learn the circumstances of 
my life, many of which you are unacquainted with, and 
expecting the enjoyment of a few weeks' uninterrupt- 
ed leisure, I sit down to write them. Besides, there 
are some other inducements that excite me to this 

* The first part of the Autobiography, constituting the first five Chap- 
ters of this edition, was written in the form of a letter to his son, Wil- 
liam Franklin, then governor of New Jersey. It was begun while the 
author was on a visit to the family of the Bishop of St. Asaph, at 
Twyford, in the year 1771. — Editor. 

VOL. I. NO. 1.] A 


undertaking. From the poverty and obscurity in which 
I was born, and in which I passed my earliest years, 
I have raised myself to a state of affluence and some 
degree of celebrity in the world. As constant good 
fortune has accompanied me even to an advanced 
period of life, my posterity will perhaps be desirous of 
learning the means, which I employed, and which, 
thanks to Providence, so well succeeded with me. 
They may also deem them fit to be imitated, should 
any of them find themselves in similar circumstances. 

This good fortune, when I reflect on it, which is 
frequently the case, has induced me sometimes to say, 
that, if it were left to my choice, I should have no 
objection to go over the same life from its beginning 
to the end ; requesting only the advantage authors 
have of correcting in a second edition the faults of 
the first. So would I also wish to change some inci- 
dents of it, for others more favorable. Notwithstand- 
ing, if this condition was denied, I should still accept 
the offer of re-commencing the same life. But as this 
repetition is not to be expected, that, which resem- 
bles most living one's life over again, seems to be to 
recall ail the circumstances of it ; and, to render this 
remembrance more durable, to record them in writing. 

In thus employing myself I shall yield to the incli- 
nation, so natural to old men, of talking of themselves 
and their own actions ; and I shall indulge it without 
being tiresome to those, who, from respect to my age, 
might conceive themselves obliged to listen to me, 
since they will be always free to read me or not. 
And, lastly, (I may as well confess it, as the denial of 
it would be believed by nobody,) I shall perhaps not 
a little gratify my own vanity. Indeed, I never heard 
or saw the introductory words, " Without vanity I may 
say," &c, but some vain thing immediately followed. 


Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share 
they have of it themselves ; but I give it fair quarter 
wherever I meet with it, being persuaded, that it is 
often productive of good to the possessor, and to oth- 
ers who are within his sphere of action ; and there- 
fore in many cases it would not be altogether absurd, 
if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the 
other comforts of life. 

And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with 
all humility to acknowledge, that I attribute the men- 
tioned happiness of my past life to his divine provi- 
dence, which led me to the means I used, and gave 
the success. My belief of this induces me to hope, 
though I must not presume, that the same goodness 
will still be exercised towards me in continuing that 
happiness, or enabling me to bear a fatal reverse, which 
I may experience as others have done ; the com- 
plexion of my future fortune being known to him only, 
in whose power it is to bless us, even in our afflictions. 

Some notes, which one of my uncles, who had the 
same curiosity in collecting family anecdotes, once put 
into my hands, furnished me with several particulars 
relative to our ancestors. From these notes I learned, 
that they lived in the same village, Ecton, in North- 
amptonshire, on a freehold of about thirty acres, for at 
least three hundred years, and how much longer could 
not be ascertained.* 

* Perhaps from the time, when the name of Franklin, which before 
was the name of an order of people, was assumed by them for a surname, 
when others took surnames all over the kingdom. 

As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order 
or rank in England, see Judge Fortescue, De laudibus Legum Angli<z, 
written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show 
that good juries might easily be formed in any part of England. 

"Regio etiam ilia, ita respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum 
et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non potent, in qua non 


This small estate would not have sufficed for their 
maintenance without the business of a smith, which 
had continued in the family down to my uncle's time, 
the eldest son being always brought up to that em- 
ployment; a custom which he and my father followed 
with regard to their eldest sons. When I searched 
the registers at Ecton, I found an account of their 
marriages and burials from the year 1555 only, as the 
registers kept did not commence previous thereto. I 
however learned from it, that I was the youngest son of 
the youngest son for five generations back. My grand- 
father, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Ecton, 
till he was too old to continue his business, when he 
retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, to the house of his 
son John, with whom my father served an apprentice- 
ship. There my uncle died and lies buried. We saw 

est miles, armiger, vel pater-farnilias, qualis ibidem Franklin vulgariter 
nuncupatur, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nee non libere tenentes et 
alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes ad faciendum juratam in 
forma prsenotata." 

" Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with land- 
ed menne, that therein so small a Thorpe cannot be found wherein 
dweleth not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder, as is there 
commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great possessions ; and also 
other freeholders and many yeon.en able for their livelihoods to make 
a jury in form aforementioned." — Old Translation. 

Chaucer too calls his Country Gentleman a Franklin, and, after describ- 
ing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him. 

" This worthy Franklin bore a purse of silk, 

Fixed to his girdle, white as morning milk. 

Knight of the Shire, first Justice at th' Assize, 

To help the poor, the doubtful to advise. 

In all employments, generous, just, he proved; 

Renowned for courtesy, by all beloved." 

" A spacious court they see, 

Both plain and pleasant to be walked in, 

Where them does meet a Franklin fair and free." 

Spenser's Fairy Queen. 

See Appendix, No. I. 


his gravestone in 1758. His eldest son Thomas lived 
in the house at Ecton, and left it with the land to his 
only daughter, who, with her husband, one Fisher of 
Wellingborough, sold it to Mr. Isted, now lord of the 
manor there. My grandfather had four sons, who grew 
up ; viz. Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josiah. Being 
at a distance from my papers, I will give you what 
account I can of them from memory; and, if my pa- 
pers are not lost in my absence, you will find among 
them many more particulars.* 

Thomas, my eldest uncle, was bred a smith under 
his father, but, being ingenious and encouraged in learn- 
ing, as all his brothers were, by an Esquire Palmer, 
then the principal inhabitant of that parish, he quali- 
fied himself for the bar, and became a considerable 
man in the county; was chief mover of all public- 
spirited enterprises for the county or town of North- 
ampton, as well as of his own village, of which many 
instances were related of him ; and he was much taken 
notice of and patronized by Lord Halifax. He died 
in 1702, the 6th of January; four years to a day 
before I was born. The recital, which some elderly 
persons made to us of his character, I remember struck 
you as something extraordinary, from its similarity with 
what you knew of me. "Had he died," said you, 
"four years later, on the same day, one might have 
supposed a transmigration." 

John, my next uncle, was bred a dyer, I believe ol 
wool. Benjamin was bred a silk dyer, serving an ap- 
prenticeship in London. He was an ingenious man. 
I remember, when I was a boy, he came to my fa- 
ther's in Boston, and resided in the house with us for 

* See a letter to his wife, describing his visit to Ecton, in the year 
1758 ; Vol. VII. p. 177. — Editor. 

A * 


several years. There was always a particular affection 
between my father and him, and I was his godson. 
He lived to a great age. He left behind him two 
quarto volumes of manuscript, of his own poetry, con- 
sisting of fugitive pieces addressed to his friends.* 
He had invented a short-hand of his own, which he 
taught me, but, not having practised it, I have now 
forgotten it. He was very pious, and an assiduous at- 
tendant at the sermons of the best preachers, which he 
reduced to writing according to his method, and had 
thus collected several volumes of them. 

He was also a good deal of a politician ; too much 
so, perhaps, for his station. There fell lately into my 
hands, in London, a collection he had made of all the 
principal political pamphlets relating to public affairs, 
from the year 1641 to 1717. Many of the volumes are 
wanting, as appears by their numbering, but there still 
remain eight volumes in folio, and twenty in quarto 
and in octavo. A dealer in old books had met with 
them, and knowing me by name, having bought books 
of him, he brought them to me. It would appear 
that my uncle must have left them here, when he went 
to America, which was about fifty years ago. I found 
several of his notes in the margins. His grandson, 
Samuel Franklin, is still living in Boston.f 

* These two volumes have been preserved, and are now before me. 
They belong to Mrs. Emmons, of Boston, great-granddaughter of Ben- 
jamin Franklin, their author. Some further account of them is con- 
tained in the Appendix, No. I. — Editor. 

f This grandson of Benjamin Franklin followed the trade of his father, 
which was that of a cutler. On the father's sign, suspended over the 
shop door, was painted a crown, with his name, " Samuel Franklin 
from London." It had also some of the implements of his trade. This 
sign was retained by Samuel Franklin the younger. At the beginning 
of the Revolution, the " Sons of Liberty " took offence at this crown, 
and demanded the removal of the sign ; but they finally contented them- 
selves with daubing a coat of paint over the crown, leaving " Samuel 


Our humble family early embraced the reformed re- 
ligion. Our forefathers continued Protestants through 
the reign of Mary, when they were sometimes in dan- 
ger of persecution, on account of their zeal against 
Popery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it 
and place it in safety, it was fastened open with tapes 
under and within the cover of a joint stool. When 
my great-grandfather wished to read it to his family, 
he placed the joint stool on his knees, and then turned 
over the leaves under the tapes. One of the children 
stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor 
coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. In 
that case the stool was turned down again upon its 
feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as 
before. This anecdote I had from uncle Benjamin. 
The family continued all of the church of England, till 
about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when 
some of the ministers that had been outed for their 
non- conformity, holding conventicles in Northampton- 
shire, my uncle Benjamin and my father Josiah adhered 
to them, and so continued all their lives. The rest 
of the family remained with the Episcopal church. 

My father married young, and carried his wife with 
three children to New England, about 1 685. The con- 
venticles being at that time forbidden by law, and 
frequently disturbed in the meetings, some considera- 
ble men of his acquaintances determined to go to that 
country, and he was prevailed with to accompany them 
thither, where they expected to enjoy the exercise of 
their religion with freedom. By the same wife my 

Franklin from London," and the implements of cutlery. Time gradually 
wore off the paint from the crown, so as to make it faintly visible ; and 
Mather Byles, who was as noted for his loyalty as for his puns, used to 
lament to Mrs. Franklin, that she should live at the sign of the half- 
crown. — Editor. 


father had four children more born there, and by a 
second, ten others ; in all seventeen ; of whom I re- 
member to have seen thirteen sitting together at his 
table ; who all grew up to years of maturity and were 
married.. I was the youngest son, and the youngest 
of all the children except two daughters. I was born 
in Boston, in New England.* My mother, the second 
wife of my father, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter 
Folger, one of the first settlers of New England; of 
whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather 
in his ecclesiastical history of that country, entitled 
Magnolia Christi Americana, as " a godly and learned 
Englishman," if I remember the words rightly. I was 
informed, he wrote several small occasional works, 
but only one of them was printed, which I remem- 
ber to have seen several years since. It was writ- 
ten in 1675. . It was in familiar verse, according to the 
taste of the times and people; and addressed to the 
government there. It asserts the liberty of conscience, 
in behalf of the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and other 
sectaries, that had been persecuted. He attributes to 
this persecution the Indian wars, and other calamities 
that had befallen the country; regarding them as so 
many judgments of God to punish so heinous an of- 
fence, and exhorting the repeal of those laws, so con- 
trary to charity. This piece appeared to me as written 

* He was born January 6th, 1706, Old Style, being Sunday, and the 
same as January 17th, New Style, which his biographers have usually 
mentioned as the day of his birth. By the records of the Old South 
Church in Boston, to which his father and mother belonged, it appears 
that he was baptized the same day. In the old public Register of Births, 
still preserved in the Mayor's office in Boston, his birth is recorded 
under the date of January 6th, 1706. At this time his father occupied 
a house in Milk Street, opposite to the Old South Church, but he re- 
moved shortly afterwards to a house at the corner of Hanover and Union 
Streets, where it is believed he resided the remainder of his life, and 
where the son passed his early years. — Editor. 


with manly freedom, and a pleasing simplicity. The 
six last lines I remember, but have forgotten the pre- 
ceding ones of the stanza ; the purport of them was, 
that his censures proceeded from good will, and there- 
fore he would be known to be the author. 

"Because to be a libeller 

I hate it with my heart. 
From Sherbon Town* where now I dwell, 

My name I do put here ; 
Without offence your real friend, 

It is Peter Folger." f 

My elder brothers were all put apprentices to dif- 
ferent trades. I was put to the grammar school at 
eight years of age ; my father intending to devote me, 
as the tythe of his sons, to the service of the church. 

* In the island of Nantucket. 

f The poem, if such it may be called, of which these are the closing 
lines, extends through fourteen pages of a duodecimo pamphlet, entitled, 
"A Looking -Glass for the Times ; or the former Spirit of New England 
revived in this Generation ; by Peter Folger." It is dated at the end, 
" April 23d, 1676." The lines, which immediately precede those quoted 
by Dr. Franklin, and which are necessary to complete the sentiment 
intended to be conveyed by the author, are the following. 

" I am for peace, and not for war, 

And that 's the reason why 
I write more plain than some men do, 

That use to daub and lie. 
But I shall cease, and set my name 

To what I here insert, 
Because to be a libeller," &c. 

The author's muse speaks even in the titlepage, and explains to the 
reader his design in writing the "Looking Glass for the Times." 

"Let all that read these verses know 
That I intend something to show 
About our war, how it hath been, 
And also what is the chief sin, 
That God doth so with us contend, 
And when these wars are like to end. 
Read then in love ; do not despise • 

What here is set before thine eyes." 

Additional facts, respecting the Franklin and Folger families, are con- 
tained in the Appendix, No. I. — Editor. 
VOL. I. 2 


My early readiness in learning to read, which must have 
been very early, as I do not remember when I could 
not read, and the opinion of all his friends, that I 
should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him 
in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin too ap- 
proved of it, and proposed to give me his shorthand 
volumes of sermons, to set up with, if I would learn 
his shorthand. I continued, however, at the grammar 
school rather less than a year, though in that time I 
had risen gradually from the middle of the class of that 
year to be at the head of the same class, and was re- 
moved into the next class, whence I was to be placed 
in the third at the end of the year. 

But my father, burdened with a numerous family, 
was unable without inconvenience to support the ex- 
pense of a college education. Considering, moreover, 
as he said to one of his friends in my presence, the 
little encouragement that line of life afforded to those 
educated for it, he gave up his first intentions, took 
me from the grammar school, and sent me to a school 
for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then famous man, 
Mr. George Brown well. He was a skilful master, and 
successful in his profession, employing the mildest and 
most encouraging methods. Under him I learned to 
write a good hand pretty soon ; but I failed entirely 
in arithmetic. At ten years old I was taken to help 
my father in his business, which was that of a tallow- 
chandler and soap-boiler ; a business to which he was 
not bred, but had assumed on his arrival in New Eng- 
land, because he found that his dyeing trade, being 
in little request, would not maintain his family. Ac- 
cordingly, I was employed in cutting wicks for the 
candles, filling the moulds for cast candles, attending 
the shop, going of errands, &c. 

I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination to 


go to sea; but my father declared against it. But, re- 
siding near the water, I was much in it and on it. I 
learned to swim well, and to manage boats ; and, when 
embarked with other boys, I was commonly allowed to 
govern, especially in any case of difficulty ; and upon 
other occasions I was generally the leader among the 
boys, and sometimes led them into scrapes, of which I 
will mention one instance, as it shows an early project- 
ing public spirit, though not then justly conducted. 
There was a salt marsh, which bounded part of the 
millpond, on the edge of which, at high water, we used 
to stand to fish for minnows. By much trampling we 
had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to 
build a wharf there for us to stand upon, and I showed 
my comrades a large heap of stones, which were in- 
tended for a new house near the marsh, and which 
would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly in the 
evening, when the workmen were gone home, I as- 
sembled a number of my playfellows, and we worked 
diligently like so many emmets, sometimes two or three 
to a stone, till we brought them all to make our little 
wharf. The next morning, the workmen were sur- 
prised at missing the stones, which had formed our 
wharf. Inquiry was made after the authors of this 
transfer ; we were discovered, complained of, and cor- 
rected by our fathers ; and, though I demonstrated the 
utility of our work, mine convinced me, that that which 
was not honest, could not be truly useful. 

I suppose you may like to know what kind of a 
man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, 
was of a middle stature, well set, and very strong. He 
could draw prettily, and was skilled a little in music. 
His voice was sonorous and agreeable, so that when 
he played on his violin, and sung withal, as he was 
accustomed to do after the business of the day was 


over, it was extremely agreeable to hear. He had some 
knowledge of mechanics, and on occasion was very 
handy with other tradesmen's tools. But his great ex- 
cellence was his sound understanding, and his solid 
judgment in prudential matters, both in private and 
public affairs. It is true he was never employed in 
the latter, the numerous family he had to educate, and 
the straitness of his circumstances, keeping him close 
to his trade ; but I remember well his being frequent- 
ly visited by leading men,, who consulted him for his 
opinion in public affairs, and those of the church he 
belonged to; and who showed a great respect for his 
judgment and advice. 

He was also much consulted by private persons 
about their affairs, when any difficulty occurred, and 
frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending par- 
ties. At his table he liked to have, as often as he 
could, some sensible friend or neighbour to converse 
with, and always took care to start some ingenious or 
useful topic for discourse, which might tend to improve 
the minds of his children. By this means he turned 
our attention to what was good, just, and prudent, in 
the conduct of life; and little or no notice was ever 
taken of what related to the victuals on the table; 
whether it was well or ill dressed, in or out of season, 
of good or bad flavor, preferable or inferior to this or 
that other thing of the kind ; so that I was brought up 
in such a perfect inattention to those matters, as to be 
quite indifferent what kind of food was set before me. 
Indeed, I am so unobservant of it, that to this day I 
can scarce tell a few hours after dinner of what dishes 
it consisted. This has been a great convenience to me 
in travelling, where my companions have been some- 
times very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification 
of their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes 
and appetites. 


My mother had likewise an excellent constitution; 
she suckled all her ten children. I never knew either 
my father or mother to have any sickness, but that of 
which they died ; he at eighty-nine, and she at eighty- 
five years of age. They lie buried together at Bos- 
ton, where I some years since placed a marble over 
their grave, with this inscription; 



ABIAH his wife, 

Lie here interred. 

They lived lovingly together in wedlock, 

Fifty-five years; 

And without an estate, or any gainful employment, 

By constant labor, and honest industry, 

(With God's blessing,) 

Maintained a large family comfortably ; 

And brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren 


From this instance, reader, 

Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling, 

And distrust not Providence. 

He was a pious and prudent man, 

She a discreet and virtuous woman. 

Their youngest son, 

In filial regard to their memory, 

Places this stone. 

J. F. born 1655; died 1744. ^Et 89. 

A. F.born 1667; died 1752. Mi. 85.* 

By my rambling digressions, I perceive myself to be 
grown old. I used to write more methodically. But 
one does not dress for private company, as for a public 
ball. Perhaps it is only negligence. 

* The marble stone, on which this inscription was engraved, having 
become decayed, and the inscription itself defaced by time, a more 
durable monument has been erected over the graves of the father and 
mother of Franklin. The suggestion was first made at a meeting of the 
building committee of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, in the 
autumn of 1826, and it met with universal approbation. A committee of 
management was organized, and an amount of money adequate to the 
object was soon contributed by the voluntary subscriptions of a large 


To return ; I continued thus employed in my father's 
business for two years, that is, till I was twelve years 
old; and, my brother John, who was bred to that 
business, having left my father, married, and set up for 
himself at Rhode Island, there was every appearance 
that I was destined to supply his place, and become 
a tallow-chandler. But my dislike to the trade con- 
tinuing, my father had apprehensions, that, if he did not 
put me to one more agreeable, I should break loose 
and go to sea, as my brother Josiah had done, to his 
great vexation. In consequence, he took me to walk 

number of the citizens of Boston. The corner-stone was laid on the 
15th of June, 1827, and an address appropriate to the occasion was 
pronounced by General Henry A. S. Dearborn. 

The monument is an obelisk of granite, twenty-one feet high, which 
rests on a square base measuring seven feet on each side and two feet 
in height. The obelisk is composed of five massive blocks of granite 
placed one above another. On one side is the name of Franklin in 
large bronze letters, and a little below is a tablet of bronze, thirty-two 
inches long and sixteen wide, sunk into the stone. On this tablet is 
engraved Dr. Franklin's original inscription, as quoted in the text, and 
beneath it are the following lines. 

"The marble tablet, 

Bearing the above inscription, 

Having been dilapidated by the ravages of time, 

A number of citizens, 

Entertaining the most profound veneration 

For the memory of the illustrious 

Benjamin Franklin, 

And desirous of reminding succeeding generations, 

That he was born in Boston, A. D. MDCCVI, 

Erected this 


Over the graves of his parents. 


A silver plate was deposited under the corner-stone, with an inscription 
commemorative of the occasion, a part of which is as follows. " This 
Monument was erected over the Remains of the Parents of Benjamin 
Franklin by the Citizens of Boston, from Respect to the Private Char- 
acter and Public Services of this Illustrious Patriot and Philosopher, and 
for the many Tokens of his affectionate Attachment to his native 
Town." — Editor. 


with him and see joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers, 
&c, at their work, that he might observe my inclina- 
tion, and endeavour to fix it on some trade or pro- 
fession that would keep me on land. It has ever since 
been a pleasure to me to see good workmen handle 
their tools. And it has been often useful to me, to 
have learned so much by it, as to be able to do some 
trifling jobs in the house when a workman was not at 
hand, and to construct little machines for my experi- 
ments, at the moment when the intention of making 
these was warm in my mind. My father determined 
at last for the cutler's trade, and placed me for some 
days on trial with Samuel, son to my uncle Benjamin, 
who was bred to that trade in London, and had just 
established himself in Boston. But the sum he ex- 
acted as a fee for my apprenticeship displeased my 
father, and I was taken home again. 

From my infancy I was passionately fond of reading, 
and all the money that came into my hands was laid 
out in the purchasing of books. I was very fond of 
voyages. My first acquisition was Bunyan's works in 
separate little volumes. I afterwards sold them to ena- 
ble me to buy R. Burton's Historical Collections. They 
were small chapmen's books, and cheap ; forty volumes 
in all. My father's little library consisted chiefly of 
books in polemic divinity, most of which I read. I 
have often regretted, that, at a time when I had such 
a thirst for knowledge, more proper books had not 
fallen in my way, since it was resolved I should not 
be bred to divinity. There was among them Plu- 
tarch's Lives, which I read abundantly, and I still think 
that time spent to great advantage. There was also 
a book of Defoe's, called Jin Essay on Projects, and 
another of Dr. Mather's, called An Essay to do Good, 
which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking, that had 


an influence on some of the principal future events of 
my life. 

This bookish inclination at length determined my 
father to make me a printer, though he had already 
one son, James, of that profession. In 1717 my brother 
James returned from England with a press and let- 
ters, to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much 
better than that of my father, but still had a hanker- 
ing for the sea. To prevent the apprehended effect 
of such an inclination, my, father was impatient to have 
me bound to my brother. I stood out some time, but 
at last was persuaded, and signed the indenture, when 
I was yet but twelve years old. I was to serve an 
apprenticeship till I was twenty -one years of age, only 
I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the 
last year. In a little time I made a great progress in 
the business, and became a useful hand to my brother. 
I now had access to better books. An acquaintance 
with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me some- 
times to borrow a small one, which I was careful to 
return soon, and clean. Often I sat up in my cham- 
ber reading the greatest part of the night, when the 
book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned 
in the morning, lest it should be found missing. 

After some time a merchant, an ingenious, sensible 
man, Mr. Matthew Adams, who had a pretty collection 
of books, frequented our printing office, took notice of 
me, and invited me to see his library, and very kindly 
proposed to lend me such books, as I chose to read. 
I now took a strong inclination for poetry, and wrote 
some little pieces. My brother, supposing it might 
turn to account, encouraged me, and induced me to 
compose two occasional ballads. One was called The 
Light House Tragedy, and contained an account of the 
shipwreck of Captain Worthilake with his two daugh- 


ters; the other was a sailor's song, on the taking of 
the famous Teach, or Blackbeard, the pirate. They 
were wretched stuff, in street-ballad style ; and when 
they were printed, my brother sent me about the town 
to sell them. The first sold prodigiously, the event 
being recent, and having made a great noise. This 
success flattered my vanity ; but my father discouraged 
me by criticizing my performances, and telling me 
verse-makers were generally beggars. Thus I escaped 
being a poet, and probably a very bad one ; but, as 
prose writing has been of great use to me in the course 
of my life, and was a principal means of my advance- 
ment, I shall tell you how in such a situation I ac- 
quired what little ability I may be supposed to have 
in that way. 

There was another bookish lad in the town, John 
Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquaint- 
ed. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were 
of argument, and very desirous of confuting one an- 
other; which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to 
become a very bad habit, making people often extreme- 
ly disagreeable in company, by the contradiction that 
is necessary to bring it into practice ; and thence, be- 
sides souring and spoiling the conversation, it is pro- 
ductive of disgusts and perhaps enmities with those, 
who may have occasion for friendship. I had caught 
this by reading my father's books of dispute on religion. 
Persons of good sense, I have since observed, sel- 
dom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and 
generally men of all sorts, who have been bred at 

A question was once, somehow or other, started be- 
tween Collins and me, on the propriety of educating 
the female sex in learning, and their abilities for study. 
He was of opinion that it was improper, and that they 

VOL. I. 3 B * 


were naturally unequal to it. I took the contrary side, 
perhaps a little for dispute's sake. He was naturally 
more eloquent, having a greater plenty of words, and 
sometimes, as I thought, I was vanquished more by his 
fluency than by the strength of his reasons. As we 
parted without settling the point, and were not to see 
one another again for some time, I sat down to put 
my arguments in writing, which I copied fair and sent 
to him. He answered, and I replied. Three or four 
letters on a side had passed, when my father happened 
to find my papers and read them. Without entering 
into the subject in dispute, he took occasion to talk to 
me about my manner of writing ; observed, that though 
I had the advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling 
and pointing (which he attributed to the printing-house), 
I fell far short in elegance of expression, in method, 
and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by sev- 
eral instances. I saw the justice of his remarks, and 
thence grew more attentive to my manner of writing, 
and determined to endeavour to improve my style. 

About this time, I met with an odd volume of the 
Spectator. I had never before seen any of them. I 
bought it, read it over and over, and was much de- 
lighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and 
wished if possible to imitate it. With that view, I 
took some of the papers, and making short hints of the 
sentiments in each sentence, laid them by a few days, 
and then, without looking at the book, tried to com- 
plete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sen- 
timent at length, and as fully as it had been expressed 
before, in any suitable words that should occur to me. 
Then I compared my Spectator with the original, dis- 
covered some of my faults, and corrected them. But 
I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in 
recollecting and using them, which I thought I should 


have acquired before that time, if I had gone on making 
verses ; since the continual search for words of the 
same import, but of different length to suit the measure, 
or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid 
me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, 
and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, 
and make me master of it. Therefore I took some 
of the tales in the Spectator, and turned them into 
verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well for- 
gotten the prose, turned them back again. 

I also sometimes jumbled my collection of hints into 
confusion, and after some weeks endeavoured to reduce 
them into the best order before I began to form the 
full sentences and complete the subject. This was to 
teach me method in the arrangement of the thoughts. 
By comparing my work with the original, I discovered 
many faults, and corrected them ; but I sometimes had 
the pleasure to fancy, that, in certain particulars of small 
consequence, I had been fortunate enough to improve 
the method or the language, and this encouraged me 
to think, that I might in time come to be a tolerable 
English writer; of which I was extremely ambitious. 
The time I allotted for writing exercises, and for read- 
ing, was at night, or before work began in the morn- 
ing, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the 
printing-house, avoiding as much as I could the con- 
stant attendance at public worship, which my father 
used to exact of me when I was under his care, and 
which I still continued to consider a duty, though I 
could not afford time to practise it. 

When about sixteen years of age, I happened to 
meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommend- 
ing a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My 
brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but 
boarded himself and his apprentices in another family 


My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconvenience, 
and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made 
myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing 
some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, 
making hasty-pudding and a few others, and then pro- 
posed to my brother, that if he would give me weekly 
half the money he paid for my board, I would board 
myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently 
found that I could save half what he paid me. This 
was an additional fund for. buying of books ; but I had 
another advantage in it. My brother and the rest 
going from the printing-house to their meals, I re- 
mained there alone, and, despatching presently my light 
repast (which was often no more than a biscuit, or a 
slice of bread, a handful of raisins, or a tart from the 
pastry cook's, and a glass of water), had the rest of 
the time, till their return, for study; in which I made 
the greater progress from that greater clearness of head, 
and quicker apprehension, which generally attend tem- 
perance in eating and drinking. Now it was, that, be- 
ing on some occasion made ashamed of my ignorance 
in figures, which I had twice failed learning when at 
school, I took Cocker's book on Arithmetic, and went 
through the whole by myself with the greatest ease. I 
also read Seller's and Sturny's book on Navigation, 
which made me acquainted with the little geometry it 
contains, but I never proceeded far in that science. I 
read about this time Locke on Human Understand- 
ing, and The Art of Thinking by Messrs. de Port- 

While I was intent on improving my language, I 
met with an English grammar (I think it was Green- 
wood's), having at the end of it two little sketches on 
the Arts of Rhetoric and Logic, the latter finishing .with 
a dispute in the Socratic method. And, soon after, I 


procured Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, 
wherein there are many examples of the same method. 
I was charmed with it, adopted it, dropped my abrupt 
contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on 
the humble inquirer. And being then from reading 
Shaftesbury and Collins made a doubter, as I already 
was in many points of our religious doctrines, I found 
this method the safest for myself and very embarrassing 
to those against whom I used it ; therefore I took de- 
light in it, practised it continually, and grew very artful 
and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowl- 
edge, into concessions, the consequences of which they 
did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties, out of 
which they could not extricate themselves, and so ob- 
taining victories, that neither myself nor my cause al- 
ways deserved. 

I continued this method some few years, but grad- 
ually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing my- 
self in terms of modest diffidence, never using, when 
I advance any thing that may possibly be disputed, the 
words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give 
the air of positiveness to an opinion ; but rather say, 
/ conceive, or apprehend, a thing to be so and so ; It 
appears to me, or i" should not think it, so or so, for 
such and such reasons ; or, i" imagine it to be so ; 
or, // is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I be- 
lieve, has been of great advantage to me, when I 
have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and per- 
suade men into measures, that I have been from time 
to time engaged in promoting. And as the chief ends 
of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to 
please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning and sen- 
sible men would not lessen their power of doing good 
by a positive assuming manner, that seldom fails to 
disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most 


of those purposes for which speech was given to us. In 
fact, if you wish to instruct others, a positive dogmatical 
manner in advancing your sentiments may occasion 
opposition, and prevent a candid attention. If you 
desire instruction and improvement from others, you 
should not at the same time express yourself fixed in 
your present opinions. Modest and sensible men, who 
do not love disputation, will leave you undisturbed in 
the possession of your errors. In adopting such a 
manner, you can seldom expect to please your hearers, 
or obtain the concurrence you desire. Pope judiciously 

"Men must be taught, as if you taught them not, 
And things unknown proposed as things forgot." 

He also recommends it to us 

"To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence." 

And he might have joined with this line, that which 
he has coupled with another, I think, less properly, 

"For want of modesty is want of sense." 

If you ask, Why less properly? I must repeat the 

"Immodest words admit of no defence, 
For want of modesty is want of sense." 

Now, is not the want of sense, where a man is so 
unfortunate as to want it, some apology for his want 
of modesty ? And would not the lines stand more 
justly thus? 

"Immodest words admit but this defence, 
That want of modesty is want of sense." 

This, however, I should submit to better judgments. 

My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a 
newspaper. It was the second that appeared in Amer- 
ica, and was called the New England Courant. The 
only one before it was the Boston News-Letter, I re- 


member his being dissuaded by some of his friends 
from the undertaking, as not likely to succeed, one 
newspaper being in their judgment enough for Amer- 
ica.* At this time, 1771, there are not less than five 
and twenty. He went on, however, with the under- 
taking. I was employed to carry the papers to the 
customers, after having worked in composing the types, 
and printing off the sheets. 

He had some ingenious men among his friends, who 
amused themselves by writing little pieces for this pa- 
per, which gained it credit, and made it more in de- 
mand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing 
their conversations, and their accounts of the approba- 
tion their papers were received with, I was excited to 
try my hand among them. But, being still a boy, and 
suspecting that my brother would object to printing 
any thing of mine in his paper, if he knew it to be 
mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an 
anonymous paper, I put it at night under the door 
of the printing-house. It was found in the morning, 
and communicated to his writing friends when they 
called in as usual. They read it, commented on it in 
my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of find- 
ing it met with their approbation, and that, in their 
different guesses at the author, none were named but 

* This was •written from recollection, and it is not surprising, that, 
after the lapse of fifty years, the author's memory should have failed 
him in regard to a fact of small importance. The New England Courant 
was the fourth newspaper that appeared in America. The first number 
of the Boston News-Letter was published April 24th, 1704. This was 
the first newspaper in America. The Boston Gazette commenced De- 
cember 21st, 1719 ; the American Weekly Mercury, at Philadelphia, De- 
cember 22d, 1719 ; the New England Courant, August 21st, 1721. 
Dr. Franklin's error of memory probably originated in the circumstance 
of his brother having been the printer of the Boston Gazette, when it 
was first established. This was the second newspaper published in 
America. — Editor. 


men of some character among us for learning and 
ingenuity. I suppose, that I was rather lucky in my 
judges, and that they were not really so very good as I 
then believed them to be. Encouraged however by 
this attempt, I wrote and sent in the same way to the 
press several other pieces, that were equally approved ; 
and I kept my secret till all my fund of sense for such 
performances was exhausted, and then discovered it, 
when I began to be considered a little more by my 
brother's acquaintance. 

However, that did not quite please him, as he thought 
it tended to make me too vain. This might be one 
occasion of the differences we began to have about 
this time. Though a brother, he considered himself as 
my master, and me as his apprentice, and accordingly 
expected the same services from me as he would from 
another, while I thought he degraded me too much in 
some he required of me, who from a brother expected 
more indulgence. Our disputes were often brought 
before our father, and I fancy I was either generally in 
the right, or else a better pleader, because the judg- 
ment was generally in my favor. But my brother was 
passionate, and had often beaten me, which I took ex- 
tremely amiss ; and, thinking my apprenticeship very 
tedious, I was continually wishing for some opportu- 
nity of shortening it, which at length offered in a man- 
ner unexpected. Perhaps this harsh and tyrannical 
treatment of me might be a means of impressing me 
with the aversion to arbitrary power, that has stuck to 
me through my whole life. 

One of the pieces in our newspaper on some political 
point, which I have now forgotten, gave offence to the 
Assembly. He was taken up, censured, and imprison- 
ed for a month by the Speaker's warrant, I suppose 
because he would not discover the author. I too was 


taken up and examined before the Council ; but, though 
I did not give them any satisfaction, they contented 
themselves with admonishing me, and dismissed me, 
considering me perhaps as an apprentice, who was 
bound to keep his master's secrets. During my broth- 
er's confinement, which I resented a good deal not- 
withstanding our private differences, I had the man- 
agement of the paper; and I made bold to give our 
rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very 
kindly, while others began to consider me in an un- 
favorable light, as a youth that had a turn for libelling 
and satire. 

My brother's discharge was accompanied with an 
order, and a very odd one, that " James Franklin should 
no longer print the newspaper, called The New Eng- 
land Conrant" On a consultation held in our printing- 
office amongst his friends, what he should do in this 
conjuncture, it was proposed to elude the order by 
changing the name of the paper. But my brother, 
seeing inconveniences in this, came to a conclusion, as 
a better way, to let the paper in future be printed in 
the name of Benjamin Franklin ; and in order to avoid 
the censure of the Assembly, that might fall on him, 
as still printing it by his apprentice, he contrived and 
consented that my old indenture should be returned to 
me with a discharge on the back of it, to show in case 
of necessity ; and, in order to secure to him the ben- 
efit of my service, I should sign new indentures for the 
remainder of my time, which were to be kept private. 
A very flimsy scheme it was; however, it was im- 
mediately executed, and the paper was printed accor- 
dingly, under my name, for several months.* 

* The earlier numbers of the Neio England Courant were principally 
filled with original articles, in the form of essays, letters, and short 
paragraphs, written with considerable ability and wit, and touching with 
VOL. I. 4 c 


At length, a fresh difference arising between my 
brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom ; 
presuming that he would not venture to produce the 
new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this 
advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first 
errata of my life; but the, unfairness of it weighed little 
with me when under the impressions of resentment for 
the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow 
upon me. Though he was otherwise not an ill natured 
man ; perhaps I was too saucy and provoking. 

When he found I would leave him, he took care to 
prevent my getting employment in any other printing- 
house of the town, by going round and speaking to 
every master, who accordingly refused to give me work. 

great freedom the vices and follies of the time. The weapon of satire 
was used with an unsparing hand. Neither the government nor the 
clergy escaped. Much caution was practised, however, in regard to in- 
dividuals, and names were seldom introduced. There are some severe 
and humorous criticisms on the poets of the day, which may be classed 
with the best specimens of this kind of composition in the modern re- 
views. The humor sometimes degenerates into coarseness, and the 
phraseology is often harsh ; but, bating these faults, the paper contains 
nothing, which in later times would have been deemed reprehensible. 
James Franklin, the editor and printer, was imprisoned on the general 
charge of having published passages " boldly reflecting on his Majes- 
ty's government and on the administration in this province, the ministry 
churches, and college ; and that tend to fill the readers' minds with van- 
ity, to the dishonor of God and the disservice of good men," He was 
sentenced by a vote of the Assembly, without any specification of these 
offensive passages, or any trial before a court of justice. 

This was probably the first transaction, in the American Colonies, re- 
lating to the freedom of the press ; and it is not less remarkable for the 
assumption of power on the part of the legislature, than for their dis- 
regard of the first principles and established forms of law. 

No change took place in the character of the paper, and six months 
afterwards, January, 1723, he was again arraigned upon a similar charge. 
The resentment of the ruling powers, stimulated by the clergy, had been 
gaining heat during the whole time, and now pushed them to more ar- 
bitrary measures. They condescended, however, to specify a particular 
article, as affording the ground of their proceedings. This was an essay 
on Hypocrisy, in which hypocrites of various descriptions were roughly 


I then thought of going to New York, as the nearest 
place where there was a printer. And I was rather 
inclined to leave Boston, when I reflected, that I had 
already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing 
party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the As- 
sembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I 
stayed, soon bring myself into scrapes ; and further, that 
my indiscreet disputations about religion began to make 
me pointed at with horror by good people, as an in- 
fidel and atheist. I concluded, therefore, to remove to 
New York ; but my father now siding with my brother, 
I was sensible, that, if I attempted to go openly, means 
would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins, 
therefore, undertook to manage my flight. He agreed 

handled, but no individual or class of men was mentioned. The most 
objectionable paragraphs in this essay are the following. 

" Religion is indeed the principal thing, but too much of it is worse 
than none at all. The world abounds with knaves and villains; but, of 
all knaves, the religious knave is the worst, and villanies acted under 
the cloak of religion the most execrable. Moral honesty, though it will 
not itself carry a man to heaven, yet I am sure there is no going thither 
without it" 

" But are there such men as these in thee, O New England ? Heaven 
forbid there should be any ; but, alas, it is to be feared the number is 
not smadl. ' Give me an honest man,'' say some, '■for all a religious man; 1 
a distinction which I confess I never heard of before. The whole 
country suffers for the villanies of a few such wolves in sheep's clothing, 
and we are all represented as a pack of knaves and hypocrites for 
their sakes." 

Sentiments like these were thought worthy of the high condemnation 
of the legislative Assembly, and the printer was again censured, without 
being tried by a judicial tribunal, and forbidden to publish any paper, or 
pamphlet, the contents of which had not been previously examined and 
approved by the Secretary of the province. The following comment on 
this act, contained in the Philadelphia Mercury, of February 26th, 1723, 
shows the indignation with which it was received in other parts of the 

" My Lord Coke observes, that, to punish first, and then inquire, the law 
abhors ; but here, Mr. Franklin has a severe sentence passed upon him, 
even to the taking away part of his livelihood, without being called to 
make an answer. An indifferent person would judge by this vote against 


with the captain of a New York sloop to take me, 
under pretence of my being a young man of his ac- 
quaintance, that had an intrigue with a girl of bad 
character, whose parents would compel me to marry 
her, and that I could neither appear or come away 
publicly. I sold my books to raise a little money, was 
taken on board the sloop privately, had a fair wind, 
and in three days found myself at New York, near 
three hundred miles from my home, at the age of seven- 
teen, (October, 1723), without the least recommenda- 
tion, or knowledge of any person in the place, and 
very little money in my pocket. 

Couranto, that the Assembly of the province of Massachusetts Bay are 
made up of oppressors and bigots, who make religion the only engine of 
destruction to the people ; and the rather, because the first letter in the 
Courant, of the 14th of January, which the Assembly censures, so 
naturally represents and exposes the hypocritical pretenders to religion. 
Indeed, the most famous politicians of that government (as the infamous 
Governor D y and his family) have ever been remarkable for hypoc- 
risy. And it is the general opinion, that some of their rulers are raised 
up and continued as a scourge in the hands of the Almighty for the 
sins of the people. Thus much we could not forbear saying, out of 
compassion to the distressed people of the province, who must now re- 
sign all pretences to sense and reason, and submit to the tyranny of 
priestcraft and hypocrisy. 

" P. S. By private letters from Boston we are informed, that the 
bakers were under great apprehensions of being forbid baking any more 
bread, unless they will submit it to the Secretary, as supervisor-general 
and Aveigher of the dough, before it is baked into bread and offered to 

After this sentence, James Franklin ceased to affix his name to the 
New England Courant. In the number, dated February 11th, he said, 
"The late publisher of this paper, finding so many inconveniences would 
arise, by his carrying the manuscripts and the public news to be super- 
vised by the Secretary, as to render his carrying it on unprofitable, has 
entirely dropped the undertaking." From this time the paper was pub- 
lished in the name of Benjamin Franklin; and although he remained 
in Boston only eight months afterwards, yet his name was continued as 
publisher for several years, and probably till the paper came to an end, 
in 1727. James Franklin removed soon after to Newport, where he 
established the Rhode Island Gazette, September, 1732. He died in 
February, 1735. — Editor. 

At. 17.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 29 


Journey to Philadelphia. — Adventure in a Boat. — Dr. Brown. — Burling- 
ton. — His first Appearance in Philadelphia. — Quaker Meeting. — 
Seeks for Employment as a Printer. — Commences Work in Keimer's 
Office. — Forms Acquaintances. — Patronized by Sir William Keith, 
Governor of Pennsylvania. — -First Interview with him. — Keith pro- 
poses to set him up in Business. — Returns to Boston. — His Father 
disapproves Keith's Plan. — Voyage to New York. — Incident on the 
Passage from Newport. — Meets his Friend Collins in New York. — 
They go together to Philadelphia. — Collins's ill Conduct causes a 
Separation. — Keith insists on executing his original Plan, and pro- 
poses sending him to London to purchase Types. — Returns to the 
Use of animal Food. — Anecdotes of Keimer. — His Associates, Os- 
borne, Watson, Ralph. — Their Exercises in Composition. — Resolves 
to visit England, as advised by Governor Keith. 

The inclination I had had for the sea was by this 
time done away, or I might now have gratified it. 
But having another profession, and conceiving myself 
a pretty good workman, I offered my services to a 
printer of the place, old Mr. William Bradford, who 
had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but had 
removed thence, in consequence of a quarrel with the 
governor, George Keith. He could give me no em- 
ployment, having little to do, and hands enough al- 
ready ; but he said, " My son at Philadelphia has lately 
lost his principal hand, Aquila Rose, by death ; if you 
go thither, I believe he may employ you." Phila- 
delphia was one hundred miles further ; I set out how- 
ever in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things 
to follow me round by sea. 

In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore 
our rotten sails to pieces, prevented our getting into 
the Kill, and drove us upon Long Island. In our way, 
a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell 
overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through 


30 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1723. 

the water to his shock pate* and drew him up, so that 
we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a 
little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket 
a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It 
proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pil- 
grim's Progress, in Dutch, finely printed on good pa- 
per, copper cuts, a dress better than I had ever seen 
it wear in its own language. I have since found that 
it has been translated into most of the languages of 
Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read 
than any other book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest 
John was the first that I know of, who mixed narra- 
tion and dialogue ; a method of writing very engaging 
to the reader, who in the most interesting parts finds 
himself, as it were, admitted into the company and 
present at the conversation. Defoe has imitated him 
successfully in his Robinson Crusoe, in his Moll Flan- 
ders, and other pieces ; and Richardson has done the 
same in his Pamela, &c. 

On approaching the island, we found it was in a 
place where there could be no landing, there being a 
great surge on the stony beach. So we dropped an- 
chor, and swung out our cable towards the shore. 
Some people came down to the shore, and hallooed to 
us, as we did to them ; but the wind was so high, and 
the surge so loud, that we could not understand each 
other. There were some small boats near the shore, 
and we made signs, and called to them to fetch us ; 
but they either did not comprehend us, or it was im- 
practicable, so they went off. Night approaching, we 
had no remedy but to have patience till the wind 
abated ; and in the mean time the boatman and myself 
concluded to sleep, if we could ; and so we crowded 
into the hatches where we joined the Dutchman, who 
was still wet, and the spray, breaking over the head of 


our boat, leaked through to us, so that we were soon al- 
most as wet as he. In this manner we lay all night, with 
very little rest ; but, the wind abating the next day, 
we made a shift to reach Amboy before night; having 
been thirty hours on the water, without victuals, or any 
drink but a bottle of filthy rum ; the water we sailed on 
being salt. 

In the evening I found myself very feverish, and 
went to bed; but, having read somewhere that cold 
water drunk plentifully was good for a fever, I follow- 
ed the prescription, and swet plentifully most of the 
night. My fever left me, and in the morning, crossing 
the ferry, I proceeded on my journey on foot, having 
fifty miles to go to Burlington, where I was told I 
should find boats, that would carry me the rest of the 
way to Philadelphia. 

It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly 
soaked, and by noon a good deal tired ; so I stopped 
at a poor inn, where I stayed all night ; beginning 
now to wish I had never left home. I made so mis- 
erable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions 
asked me, I was suspected to be some runaway in- 
dentured servant, and in danger of being taken up on 
that suspicion. However, I proceeded next day, and 
got in the evening to an inn, within eight or ten miles 
of Burlington, kept by one Dr. Brown. He entered 
into conversation with me while I took some refresh- 
ment, and, finding I had read a little, became very 
obliging and friendly. Our acquaintance continued all 
the rest of his life. He had been, I imagine, an am- 
bulatory quack doctor, for there was no town in Eng- 
land, nor any country in Europe, of which he could 
not give a very particular account. He had some let- 
ters, and was ingenious, but he was an infidel, and 
wickedly undertook, some years after, to turn the Bible 

32 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1723. 

into doggerel verse ; as Cotton had formerly done with 
Virgil. By this means he set many facts in a ridicu- 
lous light, and might have done mischief with weak 
minds, if his work had been published; but it never 

At his house I lay that night, and arrived the next 
morning at Burlington ; but had the mortification to 
find, that the regular boats were gone a little before, 
and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this be- 
ing Saturday. Wherefore I returned to an old woman 
in the town, of whom I had bought some gingerbread 
to eat on the water, and asked her advice. She pro- 
posed to lodge me, till a passage by some other boat 
occurred. I accepted her offer, being much fatigued 
by travelling on foot. Understanding I was a printer, 
she would have had me remain in that town and fol- 
low my business ; being ignorant what stock was neces- 
sary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave me 
a dinner of ox-cheek with great good will, accepting 
only of a pot of ale in return ; and I thought myself 
fixed till Tuesday should come. However, walking in 
the evening by the side of the river, a boat came by, 
which I found was going towards Philadelphia with 
several people in her. They took me in, and, as there 
was no wind, we rowed all the way ; and about mid- 
night, not having yet seen the city, some of the com- 
pany were confident we must have passed it, and 
would row no further ; the others knew not where we 
were, so we put towards the shore, got into a creek, 
landed near an old fence, with the rails of which we 
made a fire, the night being cold, in October, and 
there we remained till daylight. Then one of the 
company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little 
above Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got 
out of the Creek, and arrived there about eight or 

Mt. 17.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 33 

nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and landed at 
Market-street wharf. 

I have been the more particular in this description 
of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into 
that city, that you may in your mind compare such 
unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made 
there. I was in my working dress, my best clothes 
coming round by sea. I was dirty from my being so 
long in the boat. My pockets were stuffed out with 
shirts and stockings, and I knew no one, nor where to 
look for lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and 
the want of sleep, I was very hungry ; and my whole 
stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and about a 
shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatmen 
for my passage. At first they refused it, on account 
of my having rowed, but I insisted on their taking it. 
Man is sometimes more generous when he has little 
money, than when he has plenty ; perhaps to prevent 
his being thought to have but little. 

I walked towards the top of the street, gazing about 
till near Market Street, where I met a boy with bread. 
I had often made a meal of dry bread, and, inquiring 
where he had bought it, I went immediately to the 
baker's he directed me to. I asked for biscuits, mean- 
ing such as we had at Boston; that sort, it seems, 
was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for a 
three-penny loaf, and was told they had none. Not 
knowing the different prices, nor the names of the dif- 
ferent sorts of bread, I told him to give me three-penny 
worth of any sort. He gave me accordingly three 
great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but 
took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off 
with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. 
Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, 
passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's 

VOL. I. 5 

34 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1723. 

father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and 
thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, 
ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down 
Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, eating my 
roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again 
at Market- street wharf, near the boat I came in, to 
which I went for a draught of the river water ; and, 
being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to 
a woman and her child that came down the river in 
the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther. 

Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which 
by this time had many clean-dressed people in it, who 
were all walking the same way. I joined them, and 
thereby was led into the great meetinghouse of the 
Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, 
and, after looking round a while and hearing nothing 
said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest 
the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued 
so till the meeting broke up, when some one was kind 
enough to rouse me. This, therefore, was the first 
house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia. 

I then walked down towards the river, and looking 
in the faces of every one, I met a young Quaker man, 
whose countenance pleased me, and, accosting him, re- 
quested he would tell me where a stranger could get 
a lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three 
Mariners. "Here," said he, "is a house where they 
receive strangers, but it is not a reputable one ; if thee 
wilt walk with me, I '11 show thee a better one ;" and 
he conducted me to the Crooked Billet in Water Street. 
There I got a dinner ; and while I was eating, several 
questions were asked me ; as, from my youth and ap- 
pearance, I was suspected of being a runaway. 

After dinner my host having shown me to a bed, I 
laid myself on it without undressing, and slept till six 

^Bt. 17.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 35 

in the evening, when I was called to supper. I went 
to bed again very early, and slept very soundly till 
next morning. Then I dressed myself as neat as I 
could, and went to Andrew Bradford the printer's. I 
found in the shop the old man his father, whom I had 
seen at New York, and who, travelling on horseback, 
had got to Philadelphia before me. He introduced me 
to his son, who received me civilly, gave me a break- 
fast, but told me he did not at present want a hand, 
being lately supplied with one ; but there was another 
printer in town, lately set up, one Keimer, who per- 
haps might employ me ; if not, I should be welcome to 
lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work 
to do now and then, till fuller business should offer. 

The old gentleman said he would go with me to 
the new printer ; and when we found him, " Neigh- 
bour," said Bradford, "I have brought to see you a 
young man of your business ; perhaps you may want 
such a one." He asked me a few questions, put a 
composing stick in my hand to see how I worked, and 
.then said he would employ me soon, though he had 
just then nothing for me to do. And taking old Brad- 
ford, whom he had never seen before, to be one of the 
town's people that had a good will for him, entered 
into a conversation on his present undertaking and 
prospects ; while Bradford, not discovering that he was 
the other printer's father, on Keimer's saying he ex- 
pected soon to get the greatest part of the business 
into his own hands, drew him on by artful questions, 
and starting little doubts, to explain all his views, 
what influence he relied on, and in what manner he 
intended to proceed. I, who stood by and heard all, 
saw immediately that one was a crafty old sophister, 
and the other a true novice. Bradford left me with 
Keimer, who was greatly surprised when I told him 
who the old man was. 

36 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1723. 

The printing-house, I found, consisted of an old, 
damaged press, and a small, worn-out fount of Eng- 
lish types, which he was using himself, composing an 
Elegy on Aquila Rose, before mentioned ; an ingenious 
young man, of excellent character, much respected in 
the town, secretary to the Assembly, and a pretty poet. 
Keimer made verses too, but very indifferently. He 
could not be said to write them, for his method was 
to compose them in the types directly out of his head. 
There being no copy, but one pair of cases, and the 
Elegy probably requiring all the letter, no one could 
help him. I endeavoured to put his press (which he 
had not yet used, and of which he understood nothing,) 
into order to be worked with ; and, promising to come 
and print off his Elegy, as soon as he should have got 
it ready, I returned to Bradford's, who gave me a little 
job to do for the present, and there I lodged and 
dieted. A few days after, Keimer sent for me to print 
off the Elegy. And now he had got another pair of 
cases, and a pamphlet to reprint, on which he set me 
to work. 

These two printers I found poorly qualified for their 
business. Bradford had not been bred to it, and was 
very illiterate ; and Keimer, though something of a 
scholar, was a mere compositor, knowing nothing of 
presswork. He had been one of the French prophets, 
and could act their enthusiastic agitations. At this 
time he did not profess any particular religion, but 
something of all on occasion ; was very ignorant of 
the world, and had, as I afterwards found, a good 
deal of the knave in his composition. He did not like 
my lodging at Bradford's while I worked with him. 
He had a house, indeed, but without furniture, so he 
could not. lodge me ; but he got me a lodging at Mr. 
Read's, before mentioned, who was the owner of his 

jEt. 17.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 37 

house ; and, my chest of clothes being come by this 
time, I made rather a more respectable appearance in 
the eyes of Miss Read, than I had done when she first 
happened to see me eating my roll in the street. 

I began now to have some acquaintance among the 
young people of the town, that were lovers of read- 
ing, with whom I spent my evenings very pleasantly ; 
and gained money by my industry and frugality. I 
lived very contented, and forgot Boston as much as I 
could, and did not wish it should be known where I 
resided, except to my friend Collins, who was in the 
secret, and kept it faithfully. At length, however, an 
incident happened, that occasioned my return home 
much sooner than I had intended. I had a brother- 
in-law, Robert Homes, master of a sloop that traded 
between Boston and Delaware. He being at New- 
castle, forty miles below Philadelphia, and hearing of 
me, wrote me a letter mentioning the grief of my re-' 
lations and friends in Boston at my abrupt departure, 
assuring me of their good will to me, and that every 
thing would be accommodated to my mind, if I would 
return ; to which he entreated me earnestly. I wrote 
an answ r er to his letter, thanked him for his advice, 
but stated my reasons for quitting Boston so fully and 
in such a light, as to convince him that I was not so 
much in the wrong as he had apprehended. 

Sir William Keith, Governor of the province, w r as 
then at Newcastle, and Captain Holmes, happening 
to be in company with him when my letter came to 
hand, spoke to him of me, and showed him the letter. 
The governor read it, and seemed surprised when he 
was told my age. He said I appeared a young man 
of promising parts, and therefore should be encouraged ; 
the printers at Philadelphia were wretched ones ; and, 
if I would set up there, he made no doubt I should 

VOL. I. D 

38 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724, 

succeed ; for his part he would procure me the public 
business, and do me every other service in his power. 
This my brother-in-law Homes afterwards told me in 
Boston ; but I knew as yet nothing of it ; when one 
day, Keimer and I being at work together near the 
window, we saw the Governor and another gentleman, 
(who proved to be Colonel French, of Newcastle, in 
the province of Delaware,) finely dressed, come directly 
across the street to our house, and heard them at the 

Keimer ran down immediately, thinking it a visit to 
him ; but the Governor inquired for me, came up, and 
with a condescension and politeness I had been quite 
unused to, made me many compliments, desired to be 
acquainted with me, blamed me kindly for not having 
made myself known to him, when I first came to the 
place, and would have me away with him to the tavern, 
where he was going with Colonel French to taste, as 
he said, some excellent madeira. I was not a little 
surprised, and Keimer stared with astonishment. I 
went however with the Governor and Colonel French 
to a tavern, at the corner of Third Street, and over 
the madeira he proposed my setting up my business. 
He stated the probabilities of my success, and both he 
and Colonel French assured me, I should have their 
interest and influence to obtain for me the public busi- 
ness of both governments. And as I expressed doubts 
that my father would assist me in it, Sir William said 
he would give me a letter to him, in which he would 
set forth the advantages, and he did not doubt he 
should determine him to comply. So it was concluded 
I should return to Boston by the first vessel, with the 
Governor's letter to my father. In the mean time it 
was to be kept a secret, and I went on working with 
Keimer as usual. The Governor sent for me now and 

Mr. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 39 

then to dine with him, which I considered a great 
honor ; more particularly as he conversed with me in 
a most affable, familiar, and friendly manner. 

About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offered 
for Boston. I took leave of Keimer 3 as going to see 
my friends. The Governor gave me an ample letter, 
saying many flattering things of me to my father, and 
strongly recommending the project of my setting up at 
Philadelphia, as a thing that would make my fortune. 
We struck on a shoal in going down the bay, and 
sprung a leak ; we had a blustering time at sea, and 
were obliged to pump almost continually, at which I 
took my turn. We arrived safe however at Boston in 
about a fortnight I had been absent seven months, 
and my friends had heard nothing of me; for my 
brother Homes was not yet returned, and had not 
written about me. My unexpected appearance sur- 
prised the family; all w r ere how r ever very glad to see 
me, and made me welcome, except my brother. I 
went to see him at his printing-house. I was better 
dressed than ever while in his service, having a genteel 
new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets 
lined with near five pounds sterling in silver. He re- 
ceived me not very frankly, looked me all over, and 
turned to his work again. 

The journeymen were inquisitive where I had been, 
what sort of a country it was, and how I liked it. I 
praised it much, and the happy life I led in it, express- 
ing strongly my intention of returning to it; and, one 
of them asking what kind of money we had there, I 
produced a handful of silver, and spread it before them, 
which was a kind of raree-show they had not been 
used to, paper being the money of Boston. Then I 
took an opportunity of letting them see my watch ; 
and lastly (my brother still grum and sullen) gave them 

40 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

a dollar to drink, and took my leave. This visit of 
mine offended him extremely. For, when my mother 
some time after spoke to him of a reconciliation, and of 
her wish to see us on good terms together, and that 
we might live for the future as brothers ; he said, I had 
insulted him in such a manner before his people, that 
he could never forget or forgive it. In this, however, 
he was mistaken. 

My father received the Governor's letter with some 
surprise ; but said little of it to me for some time. 
Captain Holmes returning, he showed it to him, and 
asked him, if he knew Sir William Keith, and what 
kind of man he was ; adding that he must be of small 
discretion, to think of setting a youth up in business, 
who wanted three years to arrive at man's estate. 
Holmes said what he could in favor of the project, but 
my father was decidedly against it, and at last gave 
a flat denial. He wrote a civil letter to Sir William, 
thanking him for the patronage he had so kindly offered 
me, and declining to assist me as yet in setting up, 
I being in his opinion too young to be trusted with 
the management of an undertaking so important, and 
for which the preparation required a considerable ex- 

My old companion Collins, who was a clerk in the 
postoffice, pleased with the account I gave him of my 
new country, determined to go thither also; and, while 
I waited for my father's determination, he set out be- 
fore me by land to Rhode Island, leaving his books, 
which were a pretty collection in mathematics and 
natural philosophy, to come with mine and me to 
New York; where he proposed to wait for me. 

My father, though he did not approve Sir William's 
proposition, was yet pleased that I had been able to 
obtain so advantageous a character from a person of 

Mt. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 41 

such note where I had resided ; and that I had been 
so industrious and careful as to equip myself so hand- 
somely in so short a time; therefore seeing no pros- 
pect of an accommodation between my brother and 
me, he gave his consent to my returning again to 
Philadelphia, advised me to behave respectfully to the 
people there, endeavour to obtain the general esteem, 
and avoid lampooning and libelling, to which he thought 
I had too much inclination ; telling me, that by steady 
industry and prudent parsimony, I might save enough 
by the time I was one and twenty to set me up ; and 
that if I came near the matter he would help me out 
with the rest. This was all I could obtain, except some 
small gifts as tokens of his and my mother's love, 
when I embarked again for New York ; now with 
their approbation and their blessing. 

The sloop putting in at Newport, Rhode Island, I 
visited my brother John, who had been married and 
settled there some years. He received me very affec- 
tionately, for he always loved me. A friend of his, 
one Vernon, having some money due to him in Penn- 
sylvania, about thirty-five pounds currency, desired I 
would recover it for him, and keep it till I had his 
directions what to employ it in. Accordingly he gave 
me an order to receive it. This business afterwards 
occasioned me a good deal of uneasiness. 

At Newport we took in a number of passengers, 
amongst whom were two young women travelling to- 
gether, and a sensible, matron-like Quaker lady, with 
her servants. I had shown an obliging disposition to 
render her some little services, which probably im- 
pressed her with sentiments of good will towards me ; 
for when she witnessed the daily growing familiarity 
between the young women and myself, which they 
appeared to encourage; she took me aside, and said, 

VOL. I. 6 D * 

42 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

"Young man, I am concerned for thee, as thou hast 
no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of 
the world, or of the snares youth is exposed to; de- 
pend upon it, these are very bad women ; I can see 
it by all their actions ; and if thee art not upon thy 
guard, they will draw thee into some danger ; they are 
strangers to thee, and I advise thee, in a friendly con- 
cern for thy welfare, to have no acquaintance with 
them." As I seemed at first not to think so ill of them 
as she did, she mentioned some things she had ob- 
served and heard, that had escaped my notice, but now 
convinced me she was right. I thanked her for her 
kind advice, and promised to follow it. When we ar- 
rived at New York, they told me where they lived, 
and invited me to come and see them ; but I avoided 
it, and it was well I did. For the next day the cap- 
tain missed a silver spoon and some other things, that 
had been taken out of his cabin, and, knowing that 
these were a couple of strumpets, he got a warrant 
to search their lodgings, found the stolen goods, and 
had the thieves punished. So though we had es- 
caped a sunken rock, which we scraped upon in the 
passage, I thought this escape of rather more impor- 
tance to me. 

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had 
arrived there some time before me. We had been 
intimate from children, and had read the same books 
together; but he had the advantage of more time for 
reading and studying, and a wonderful genius for 
mathematical learning, in which he far outstripped me. 
While I lived in Boston, most of my hours of leisure 
for conversation were spent with him, and he continued 
a sober as well as industrious lad ; was much respect- 
ed for his learning by several of the clergy and other 
gentlemen; and seemed to promise making a good 

Mt. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 43 

figure in life. But, during my absence, he had acquir- 
ed a habit of drinking brandy ; and I found by his 
own account, as well as that of others, that he had 
been drunk every day since his arrival at New York, 
and behaved himself in a very extravagant manner. 
He had gamed too and lost his money, so that I was 
obliged to discharge his lodgings, and defray his ex- 
penses on the road, and at Philadelphia; which proved 
a great burden to me. 

The then governor of New York, Burnet, (son of 
Bishop Burnet,) hearing from the captain that one of the 
passengers had a great many books on board, desired 
him to bring me to see him. I waited on him, and 
should have taken Collins with me, had he been sober. 
The governor received me with great civility, showed 
me his library, which w 7 as a considerable one, and we 
had a good deal of conversation relative to books and 
authors. This was the second governor who had done 
me the honor to take notice of me ; and for a poor 
boy, like me, it was very pleasing. 

We proceeded to Philadelphia. I received in the 
way Vernon's money, without which we could hardly 
have finished our journey. Collins wished to be em- 
ployed in some counting-house ; but, whether they dis- 
covered his dram-drinking by his breath, or by his be- 
haviour, though he had some recommendations, he met 
with no success in any application, and continued lodg- 
ing and boarding at the same house with me, and at 
my expense. Knowing I had that money of Vernon's, 
he was continually borrowing of me, still promising re- 
payment, as soon as he should be in business. At 
length he had got so much of it, that I was distressed 
to think what I should do, in case of being called on 
to remit it. 

His drinking continued, about which we sometimes 

44 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

quarrelled ; for, when a little intoxicated, he was very 
irritable. Once in a boat on the Delaware with some 
other young men, he refused to row in his turn. "I 
will be rowed home," said he. "We will not row 
you," said I. "You must," said he, "or stay all night 
on the water, just as you please." The others said, 
"Let us row, what signifies it?" But, my mind be- 
ing soured with his other conduct, I continued to re- 
fuse. So he swore he would make me row, or throw 
me overboard ; and coming along stepping on the 
thwarts towards me, when he came up and struck at 
me, I clapped my head under his thighs, and, rising, 
pitched him head foremost into the river. I knew he 
was a good swimmer, and so was under little concern 
about him ; but before he could get round to lay hold 
of the boat, we had with a few strokes pulled her out 
of his reach ; and whenever he drew near the boat, 
we asked him if he would row, striking a few strokes 
to slide her away from him. He was ready to stifle 
with vexation, and obstinately would not promise to row. 
Finding him at last beginning to tire, we drew him 
into the boat, and brought him home dripping wet. 
We hardly exchanged a civil word after this adventure. 
At length a West India captain, who had a commis- 
sion to procure a preceptor for the sons of a gentleman 
at Barbadoes, met with him, and proposed to carry 
him thither to fill that situation. * He accepted, and 
promised to remit me what he owed me out of the 
first money he should receive ; but I never heard of 
him after. 

The violation of my trust respecting Vernon's money 
was one of the first great errata of my life ; and this 
showed, that my father was not much out in his judg- 
ment, when he considered me as too young to manage 
business. But Sir William, on reading his letter, said 

^Et. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 45 

he was too prudent, that there was a great difference 
in persons ; and discretion did not always accompany 
years, nor was youth always without it. "But, since he 
will not set you up, I will do it myself. Give me an 
inventory of the things necessary to be had from Eng- 
land, and I will send for them. You shall repay me 
when you are able; I am resolved to have a good 
printer here, and I am sure you must succeed." This 
was spoken with such an appearance of cordiality, 
that I had not the least doubt of his meaning what 
he said. I had hitherto kept the proposition of my 
setting up a secret in Philadelphia, and I still kept it. 
Had it been known that I depended on the Governor, 
probably some friend, that knew him better, would have 
advised me not to rely on him ; as I afterwards heard 
it as his known character to be liberal of promises, 
which he never meant to keep. Yet, unsolicited as he 
was by me, how could I think his generous offers 
insincere 1 I believed him one of the best men in the 

I presented him an inventory of a little printing- 
house, amounting by my computation to about one 
hundred pounds sterling. He liked it, but asked me 
if my being on the spot in England to choose the 
types, and see that every thing was good of the kind, 
might not be of some advantage. "Then," said he, 
"when there, you may make acquaintance, and estab- 
lish correspondences^ in the bookselling and stationery 
line." I agreed that this might be advantageous. 
" Then," said he, " get yourself ready to go with Jln- 
nis ;" which was the annual ship, and the only one at 
that time usually passing between London and Phila- 
delphia. But as it would be some months before 
Annis sailed, I continued working with Keimer, fretting 
extremely about the money Collins, had got from me, 

46 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

and in great apprehensions of being called upon for it 
by Vernon; this however did not happen for some 
years after. 

I believe I have omitted mentioning, that in my first 
voyage, from Boston to Philadelphia, being becalmed 
off Block Island, our crew employed themselves in 
catching cod, and hauled up a great number. Till 
then, I had stuck to my resolution to eat nothing that 
had had life; and on this occasion I considered, ac- 
cording to my master Tryon, the taking every fish as 
a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, 
nor could do us any injury that might justify this mas- 
sacre. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had 
been formerly a great lover of fish, and, when it came 
out of the fryingpan, it smelt admirably well. I bal- 
anced some time between principle and inclination, till 
recollecting, that, when the fish were opened, I saw 
smaller fish taken out of their stomachs ; then thought 
I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we may 
not eat you." So I dined upon cod very heartily, and 
have since continued to eat as other people ; return- 
ing only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. 
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable crea- 
ture, since it enables one to find or make a reason for 
every thing one has a mind to do. 

Keimer and I lived on a pretty good familiar foot- 
ing, and agreed tolerably well ; for he suspected nothing 
of my setting up. He retained a great deal of his old 
enthusiasm, and loved argumentation. We therefore 
had many disputations. I used to work him so with 
my Socratic method, and had trepanned him so often 
by questions apparently so distant from any point we 
had in hand, yet by degrees leading to the point and 
bringing him into difficulties and contradictions, that at 
Jast he grew ridiculously cautious, and would hardly 

Mr. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 47 

answer me the most common question, without asking 
first, " What do you intend to infer from that ? " How- 
ever, it gave him so high an opinion of my abilities in 
the confuting way, that he seriously proposed my being 
his colleague in a project he had of setting up a new 
sect. He was to preach the doctrines, and I was to 
confound all opponents. When he came to explain 
with me upon the doctrines, I found several conun- 
drums which I objected to, unless I might have my 
way a little too, and introduce some of mine. 

Keimer wore his beard at full length, because some- 
where in the Mosaic law it is said, " Thou shalt not 
mar the corners of thy beard." He likewise kept the 
Seventh day, Sabbath; and these two points were es- 
sential with him. I disliked both ; but agreed to them 
on condition of his adopting the doctrine of not using 
animal food. " I doubt," said he, " my constitution 
will not bear it." I assured him it would, and that 
he would be the better for it. He was usually a great 
eater, and I wished to give myself some diversion in 
half starving him. He consented to try the practice, 
if I would keep him company. I did so, and we held 
it for three months. Our provisions were purchased, 
cooked, and brought to us regularly by a woman in 
the neighbourhood, who had from me a list of forty 
dishes, which she prepared for us at different times, in 
which there entered neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. This 
whim suited me the better at this time from the cheap- 
ness of it, not costing us above eighteen pence sterling 
each per w T eek. I have since kept several lents most 
strictly, leaving the common diet for that, and that for 
the common, abruptly, without the least inconvenience. 
So that I think there is little in the advice of making 
those changes by easy gradations. I went on pleas- 
antly, but poor Keimer suffered grievously, grew tired 

48 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. ^[1724. 

of the project, longed for the fleshpots of Egypt, and 
ordered a roast pig. He invited me and two women 
friends to dine with him ; but, it being brought too 
soon upon table, he could not resist the temptation, 
and ate the whole before we came. 

I had made some courtship during this time to 
Miss Read. I had a great respect and affection for 
her, and had some reasons to believe she had the same 
for me ; but, as I was about to take a long voyage, 
and we were both very young, only a little above 
eighteen, it was thought most prudent by her mother, 
to prevent our going too far at present ; as a marriage, 
if it was to take place, w r ould be more convenient 
after my return, when I should be, as I hoped, set up 
in my business. Perhaps too she thought my expec- 
tations not so well founded as I imagined them to be. 

My chief acquaintances at this time were Charles 
Osborne, Joseph Watson, and James Ralph ; all lovers 
of reading. The two first were clerks to an eminent 
scrivener or conveyancer in the town, Charles Brockden, 
the other was a clerk to a merchant. Watson was a 
pious, sensible young man, of great integrity ; the oth- 
ers rather more lax in their principles of religion, par- 
ticularly Ralph, who, as well as Collins, had been un- 
settled by me ; for which they both made me suffer. 
Osborne was sensible, candid, frank ; sincere and af- 
fectionate to his friends ; but, in literary matters, too 
fond of criticism. Ralph was ingenious, genteel in his 
manners, and extremely eloquent ; I think I never knew 
a prettier talker. Both were great admirers of poetry, 
and began to try their hands in little pieces. Many 
pleasant walks we have had together on Sundays in 
the woods, on the banks of the Schuylkill, where we 
read to one another, and conferred on what we had 

jEt. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 49 

Ralph was inclined to give himself up entirely to 
poetry, not doubting that he might make great pro- 
ficiency in it, and even make his fortune by it. He 
pretended., that the greatest poets must, when they first 
began to write, have committed as many faults as he 
did. Osborne endeavoured to dissuade him, assured 
him he had no genius for poetry, and advised him to 
think of nothing beyond the business he was bred to ; 
that, in the mercantile way, though he had no stock, 
he might by his diligence and punctuality recommend 
himself to employment as a factor, and in time acquire 
wherewith to trade on his own account. I approved 
for my part the amusing one's self with poetry now 
and then, so far as to improve one's language, but no 

On this it was proposed, that we should each of us 
at our next meeting produce a piece of our own com- 
posing, in order to improve by our mutual observations, 
criticisms, and corrections. As language and expres- 
sion were what we had in view, we excluded all 
considerations of invention, by agreeing that the task 
should be a version of the eighteenth Psalm, which 
describes the descent of a Deity. When the time of 
our meeting drew nigh, Ralph called on me first, and 
let me know his piece was ready. I told him,, I had 
been busy, and, having little inclination, had done 
nothing. He then showed me his piece for my opin- 
ion, and I much approved it, as it appeared to me to 
have great merit. " Now," said he, " Osborne never 
will allow the least merit in any thing of mine, but 
makes a thousand criticisms out of mere envy. He 
is not so jealous of you ; I wish therefore you would 
take this piece and produce it as yours ; I will pretend 
not to have had time, and so produce nothing. We 
shall then hear what he will say to it." It was 

VOL. I. 7 E 

50 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

agreed, and I immediately transcribed it, that it might 
appear in my own hand. 

We met; Watson's performance was read; there 
were some beauties in it, but many defects. Osborne's 
was read ; it was much better ; Ralph did it justice ; 
remarked some faults, but applauded the beauties. He 
himself had nothing to produce. I was backward, 
seemed desirous of being excused, had not had suf- 
ficient time to correct, &,c. ; but no excuse could be 
admitted; produce I must. It was read and repeat- 
ed ; Watson and Osborne gave up the contest ; and 
joined in applauding it. Ralph only made some criti- 
cisms, and proposed some amendments ; but I defend- 
ed my text. Osborne was severe against Ralph, and 
told me he was no. better able to criticize than com- 
pose verses. As these two were returning home, Os- 
borne expressed himself still more strongly in favor of 
what he thought my production; having before re- 
frained, as he said, lest I should think he meant to 
flatter me. " But who would have imagined," said he, 
" that Franklin was capable of such a performance ; 
such painting, such force, such fire! He has even 
improved on the original. In common conversation he 
seems to have no choice of words ; he hesitates and 
blunders ; and yet, good God, how he writes ! " When 
we next met, Ralph discovered the trick we had play- 
ed, and Osborne was laughed at. 

This transaction fixed Ralph in his resolution of be- 
coming a poet. I did all I could to dissuade him 
from it, but he continued scribbling verses till Pope 
cured him. He became however a pretty good prose 
writer. More of him hereafter.* But, as I may not 

* Ralph obtained much celebrity as a political and historical writer. 
He also wrote poetry and plays, but with less success. He published 
" Night," a poem ; and another poem, called "Sawney." In this latter he 

jEt. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 51 

have occasion to mention the other two, I shall just 
remark here, that Watson died in my arms a few years 
after, much lamented, being the best of our set. Os- 
borne went to the West Indies, where he became an 
eminent lawyer and made money, but died young. 
He and I had made a serious agreement, that the one, 
who happened first to die, should, if possible, make a 
friendly visit to the other, and acquaint him how he 
found things in that separate state. But he never ful- 
filled his promise. 

The Governor, seeming to like my company, had me 
frequently at his house, and his setting me up was 
always mentioned as a fixed thing. I was to take 
with me letters recommendatory to a number of his 
friends, besides the letter of credit to furnish me with 
the necessary money for purchasing the press, types, 
paper, &c. For these letters I was appointed to call 
at different times, when they were to be ready ; but a 
future time was still named. Thus we went on till 

abused Swift, Pope, and Gay. In revenge Pope introduced his name 
into the D unci ad. 

" Silence, ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howls, 
And makes Night hideous ; answer him, ye owls." 

He wrote a much approved work, entitled "Use and Abuse of Par- 
liaments " ; and also a " History of England during the Reign of William 
the Third," in two folio volumes. Alluding to this work, Fox pronounces 
the author " a historian of great acuteness, as well as diligence, but who 
falls sometimes into the common error of judging by the event." Ralph 
produced also many political pamphlets, and was employed by the min- 
istry at different times to promote their aims with his pen. For these 
services he was pensioned. He was deeply skilled in the party tactics 
of politicians, and his principles were so flexible, that he made little 
difficulty in adapting them to circumstances. For many years, however, 
he was the confidential associate of the ministers and courtiers ; and, 
just before his death, his pension was increased by the interest of the 
Earl of Bute to the liberal amount of six hundred pounds a year. He 
died, January 24th, 1762. An account of his life and writings is con- 
tained in Chalmers's Biographical Dictionary. — Editor. 

52 fc LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

the ship, whose departure too had been several times 
postponed, was on the point of sailing. Then, when I 
called to take my leave and receive the letters, his 
secretary, Dr. Baird, came out to me and said the Gov- 
ernor was extremely busy in writing, but would be 
down at Newcastle before the ship, and then the 
letters would be delivered to me. 

Ralph, though married, and having one child, had 
determined to accompany me in this voyage. It was 
thought he intended to establish a correspondence, and 
obtain goods to sell on commission ; but I found after, 
that, having some cause of discontent with his wife's 
relations, he proposed to leave her on their hands, and 
never to return to America. Having taken leave of my 
friends, and exchanged promises with Miss Read, I 
quitted Philadelphia, in the ship, which anchored at 
Newcastle. The Governor was there; but when I 
went to his lodging, his secretary came to me from him 
with expressions of the greatest regret, that he could 
not then see me, being engaged in business of the 
utmost importance; but that he would send the let- 
ters to me on board, wishing me heartily a good voyage 
and a speedy return, &,c. I returned on board a little 
puzzled, but still not doubting. 

^Jt. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 53 


Sails for London, accompanied by Ralph. — On his Arrival delivers Let- 
ters supposed to be written by the Governor. — Discovers that Keith 
had deceived hinj. — His Money exhausted. — Engages to work as a 
Printer at Palmer's, in Bartholomew Close. — Writes and prints a 
metaphysical Tract. — Frequents a Club, consisting of Dr. Mandeville 
and Others. — Disagreement with Ralph and Separation. — Removes 
to Watts's Printing-house, near Lincoln's Inn Fields. — Habits of the 
Workmen. — His Expenses of Living. — Feats of Activity in Swim- 
ming. — Enters into Mercantile Business with Mr. Denham. — Sir 
William Wyndham. 

Mr. Andrew Hamilton, a celebrated lawyer of 
Philadelphia, had taken his passage in the same ship for 
himself and son, with Mr. Denham, a Quaker merchant, 
and Messrs. Oniam and Russel, masters of an iron 
work in Maryland, who had engaged the great cabin ; 
so that Ralph and I were forced to take up with a 
berth in the steerage, and, none on board knowing us, 
were considered as ordinary persons. But Mr. Ham- 
ilton and his son (it was James, since Governor,) re- 
turned from Newcastle to Philadelphia ; the father be- 
ing recalled by a great fee to plead for a seized ship. 
And, just before we sailed, Colonel French coming on 
board, and showing me great respect, I was more 
taken notice of, and, with my friend Ralph, invited by 
the other gentlemen to come into the cabin, there be- 
ing now room. Accordingly we removed thither. 

Understanding that Colonel French had brought on 
board the Governor's despatches, I asked the captain 
for those letters that were to be under my care. He 
said all were put into the bag together ; and he could 
not then come at them ; but, before we landed in Eng- 
land, I should have an opportunity of picking them out ; 
so I was satisfied for the present, and we proceeded 

No 2 v * 

54 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1724. 

on our voyage. We had a sociable company in the 
cabin, and lived uncommonly well, having the addition 
of all Mr. Hamilton's stores, who had laid in plentifully. 
In this passage Mr. Denham contracted a friendship for 
me, that continued during his life. The voyage was 
otherwise not a pleasant one, as we had a great deal 
of bad weather. 

When we came into the Channel, the captain kept 
his word with me, and gave me an opportunity of ex- 
amining the bag for the Governor's letters. I found 
some upon which my name was put as under my 
care. I picked out six or seven, that, by the hand- 
writing, I thought might be the promised letters, es- 
pecially as one of them was addressed to Baskett, the 
King's printer, and another to some stationer. We 
arrived in London the 24th December, 1724. I wait- 
ed upon the stationer, who came first in my way, de- 
livering the letter as from Governor Keith. "I don't 
know such a person," said he ; but, opening the letter, 
" O ! this is from Riddlesden. I have lately found him 
to be a complete rascal, and I will have nothing to do 
with him, nor receive any letters from him." So put- 
ting the letter into my hand, he turned on his heel 
and left me to serve some customer. I was surprised 
to find these were not the Governor's letters ; and, af- 
ter recollecting and comparing circumstances, I began 
to doubt his sincerity. I found my friend Denham, 
and opened the whole affair to him. He let me into 
Keith's character, told me there was not the least 
probability that he had written any letters for me ; that 
no one, who knew him, had the smallest dependence 
on him ; and he laughed at the idea of the Governor's 
giving me a letter of credit, having, as he said, no 
credit to give. On my expressing some concern about 
what I should do, he advised me to endeavour get- 

^Et. 18.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 55 

ting some employment in the way of my business. 
"Among the printers here," said he, *'you will improve 
yourself, and, when you return to America, you will set 
up to greater advantage." 

We both of us happened to know, as well as the 
stationer, that Riddlesden, the attorney, was a very 
knave. He had half ruined Miss Read's father, by 
persuading him to be bound for him. By his letter it 
appeared there was a secret scheme on foot to the 
prejudice of Mr. Hamilton (supposed to be then com- 
ing over with us) ; that Keith was concerned in it with 
Riddlesden. Denham, who was a friend of Hamilton's, 
thought he ought to be acquainted with it ; so, when he 
arrived in England, which was soon after, panly from 
resentment and ill will to Keith and Riddlesden, and 
partly from good will to him, I waited on him, and 
gave him the letter. He thanked me cordially, the in- 
formation being of importance to him ; and from that 
time he became my friend, greatly to my advantage 
afterwards on many occasions. 

But what shall we think of a governor playing such 
pitiful tricks, and imposing so grossly on a poor igno- 
rant boy ! It was a habit he had acquired. He wished 
to please everybody ; and, having little to give, he gave 
expectations. He was otherwise an ingenious, sensi- 
ble man, a pretty good writer, and a good governor for 
the people; though not for his constituents, the Pro- 
prietaries, whose instructions he sometimes disregard- 
ed. Several of our best laws were of his planning, and 
passed during his administration. 

Ralph and I were inseparable companions. We took 
lodgings together in Little Britain at three shillings and 
sixpence a week; as much as we could then afford. 
He found some relations, but they were poor, and 
unable to assist him. He now let me know his inten- 

56 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1725. 

tions of remaining in London, and that he never meant 
to return to Philadelphia. He had brought no money 
with him ; the whole he could muster having been ex- 
pended in paying his passage. I had fifteen pistoles ; 
so he borrowed occasionally of me to subsist, while he 
was looking out for business. He first endeavoured 
to get into the playhouse, believing himself qualified for 
an actor; but Wilkes,* to whom he applied, advised 
him candidly not to think of that employment, as it 
was impossible he should succeed in it. Then he pro- 
posed to Roberts, a publisher in Pater Noster Row, to 
write for him a weekly paper like the Spectator, on 
certain conditions ; which Roberts did not approve. 
Then he endeavoured to get employment as a hackney 
writer, to copy for the stationers and lawyers about 
the Temple ; but could not find a vacancy. 

For myself, I immediately got into work at Palmer's, 
a famous printing-house in Bartholomew Close, where 
I continued near a year. I was pretty diligent, but I 
spent with Ralph a good deal of my earnings at plays 
and public amusements. We had nearly consumed all 
my pistoles, and now just rubbed on from hand to 
mouth. He seemed quite to have forgotten his wife 
and child; and I by degrees my engagements with 
Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one 
letter, and that was to let her know I was not likely 
soon to return. This was another of the great errata 
of my life, which I could wish to correct, if I were to 
live it over again. In fact, by our expenses, I was con- 
stantly kept unable to pay my passage. 

At Palmer's I was employed in composing for the 
second edition of Wollaston's "Religion of Nature" 
Some of his reasonings not appearing to me well found- 

* A comedian of eminence. 

jEt. 19.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 57 

ed, I wrote a little metaphysical piece in which I made 
remarks on them. It was entitled, "A Dissertation on 
Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain" I inscribed 
it to my friend Ralph ; I printed a small number. It 
occasioned my being more considered by Mr. Palmer, as 
a young man of some ingenuity, though he seriously ex- 
postulated with me upon the principles of my pamphlet, 
which to him appeared abominable. My printing this 
pamphlet was another erratum. While I lodged in 
Little Britain, I made an acquaintance with one Wil- 
cox, a bookseller, whose shop was next door. He had 
an immense collection of secondhand books. Circu- 
lating libraries were not then in use ; but we agreed, 
that, on certain reasonable terms, which I have now 
forgotten, I might take, read, and return any of his 
books. This I esteemed a great advantage, and I 
made as much use of it as I could. 

My pamphlet by some means falling into the hands 
of one Lyons, a surgeon, author of a book entitled, 
" The Infallibility of Human Judgment" it occasioned 
an acquaintance between us. He took great notice of 
me, called on me often to converse on those subjects, 

carried me to the Horns, a pale alehouse in Lane, 

Cheapside, and introduced me to Dr. Mandeville, au- 
thor of the " Fable of the Bees" who had a club there, 
of which he was the soul ; being a most facetious, 
entertaining companion. Lyons too introduced me to 
Dr. Pemberton, at Batson's Coffee-house, who promised 
to give me an opportunity, some time or other, of see- 
ing Sir Isaac Newton, of which I was extremely de- 
sirous ; but this never happened. 

I had brought over a few curiosities, among which 
the principal was a purse made of the asbestos, which 
purines by fire. Sir Hans Sloane heard of it, came to 
see me, and invited me to his house in Bloomsbury 

vol. i. 8 

58 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1725. 

Square, showed me all his curiosities, and persuaded 
me to add that to the number ; for which he paid me 

In our house lodged a young woman, a milliner, 
who, I think, had a shop in the Cloisters. She had 
been genteelly bred, was sensible, lively, and of a most 
pleasing conversation. Ralph read plays to her in the 
evenings, they grew intimate, she took another lodging, 
and he followed her. They lived together some time; 
but, he being still out of business, and her income not 
sufficient to maintain them with her child, he took a 
resolution of going from London, to try for a country 
school, which he thought himself well qualified to un- 
dertake, as he wrote an excellent hand, and was a 
master of arithmetic and accounts. This however he 
deemed a business below him, and, confident of future 
better fortune, when he should be unwilling to have 
it known that he once was so meanly employed, he 
changed his name, and did me the honor to assume 
mine ; for I soon after had a letter from him, acquaint- 
ing me that he was settled in a small village (in Berk- 
shire, I think it was, where he taught reading and 
writing to ten or a dozen boys, at sixpence each per 
week), recommending Mrs. T to my care, and de- 
siring me to write to him, directing for Mr. Franklin, 
schoolmaster, at such a place. 

He continued to write to me frequently, sending me 
large specimens of an epic poem, which he was then 
composing, and desiring my remarks and corrections. 
These I gave him from time to time, but endeavoured 
rather to discourage his proceeding. One of Young's 
Satires was then just published. I copied and sent 
him a great part of it, which set in a strong light the 
folly of pursuing the Muses. All was in vain ; sheets 
of the poem continued to come by every post. In the 

^t. 19.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 59 

mean time, Mrs. T , having on his account lost her 

friends and business, was often in distresses, and used 
to send for me, and borrow what money I could spare 
to help to alleviate them. I grew fond of her com- 
pany, and, being at that time under no religious re- 
straint, and taking advantage of my importance to her, 
I attempted to take some liberties with her (another 
erratum), which she repulsed, with a proper degree of 
resentment. She wrote to Ralph and acquainted him 
with my conduct; this occasioned a breach between 
us ; and, when he returned to London, he let me know 
he considered all the obligations he had been under 
to me as annulled ; from which I concluded I was 
never to expect his repaying the money I had lent 
him, or that I had advanced for him. This however 
was of little consequence, as he was totally unable; 
and by the loss of his friendship I found myself re- 
lieved from a heavy burden. I now began to think 
of getting a little beforehand, and, expecting better em- 
ployment, I left Palmer's to work at Watts's, near Lin- 
coln's Inn Fields, a still greater printing-house. Here 
I continued all the rest of my stay in London. 

At my first admission into the printing-house I took 
to working at press, imagining I felt a want of the 
bodily exercise I had been used to in America, where 
press work is mixed with the composing. I drank only 
water; the other workmen, near fifty in number, were 
great drinkers of beer. On occasion I carried up and 
down stairs a large form of types in each hand, when 
others carried but one in both hands. They wondered 
to see, from this and several instances, that the Water- 
American, as they called me, was stronger than them- 
selves, who drank strong beer ! We had an alehouse 
boy, who attended always in the house to supply the 
workmen. My companion at the press drank ever) 

60 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1725. 

day a pint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his 
bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and din- 
ner; a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about 
six o'clock, and another when he had done his day's 
work. I thought it a detestable custom; but it was 
necessary, he supposed, to drink strong beer that he 
might be strong to labor. I endeavoured to convince 
him, that the bodily strength afforded by beer could 
only be in proportion to the grain or flour of the bar- 
ley dissolved in the water of which it was made ; that 
there was more flour in a pennyworth of bread; and 
therefore, if he could eat that with a pint of water, it 
would give him more strength than a quart of beer. 
He drank on however, and had four or five shillings to 
pay out of his wages every Saturday night for that 
vile liquor; an expense I was free from. And thus 
these poor devils keep themselves always under. 

Watts, after some weeks, desiring to have me in the 
composing-room, I left the pressmen ; a new Men venu 
for drink, being five shillings, was demanded of me by 
the compositors. I thought it an imposition, as I had 
paid one to the pressmen ; the master thought so too, 
and forbade my paying it. I stood out two or three 
weeks, was accordingly considered as an excommuni- 
cate, and had so many little pieces of private malice 
practised on me, by mixing my sorts, transposing and 
breaking my matter, &x. &,c, if ever I stepped out of 
the room ; and all ascribed to the chapel ghost, which 
they said ever haunted those not regularly admitted; 
that, notwithstanding the master's protection, I found 
myself obliged to comply and pay the money; con- 
vinced of the folly of being on ill terms with those 
one is to live with continually. 

I was now on a fair footing with them, and soon 
acquired considerable influence. I proposed some rea- 

Mt. 19.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 61 

sonable alterations in their chapel* laws, and carried 
them against all opposition. From my example, a great 
many of them left their muddling breakfast of beer, 
bread, and cheese, finding they could with me be sup- 
plied from a neighbouring house, with a large porringer 
of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with pepper, crumbled with 
bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price of a pint 
of beer, viz. three halfpence. This was a more com- 
fortable as well as a cheaper breakfast, and kept their 
heads clearer. Those, who continued sotting with their 
beer all day, were often, by not paying, out of credit at 
the alehouse, and used to make interest with me to 
get beer ; their light, as they phrased it, being out. I 
watched the pay-table on Saturday night, and collected 
what I stood engaged for them, having to pay some- 
times near thirty shillings a week on their accounts. 
This, and my being esteemed a pretty good riggite, that 
is a jocular verbal satirist, supported my consequence 
in the society. My constant attendance (I never mak- 
ing a St. Monday) recommended me to die master; 
and my uncommon quickness at composing occasioned 
my being put upon work of despatch, which was gen- 
erally better paid. So I went on now very agreeably. 
My lodgings in Little Britain being too remote, I 
found another in Duke Street, opposite to the Romish 
Chapel. It was up three pair of stairs backwards, at 
an Italian warehouse. A widow lady kept the house ; 
she had a daughter, and a maid servant, and a journey- 
man who attended the warehouse, but lodged abroad. 
After sending to inquire my character at the house 
where I last lodged, she agreed to take me in at the 
same rate, three shillings and sixpence a week; cheap- 
er, as she said, from the protection she expected in 

# A printing-house is called a chapel by the workmen. 

62 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1726. 

having a man to lodge in the house. She was a 
widow, an elderly woman ; had been bred a Protestant, 
being a clergyman's daughter, but was converted to 
the Catholic religion by her husband, whose memory 
she much revered; had lived much among people of 
distinction, and knew a thousand anecdotes of them 
as far back as the time of Charles the Second. She 
was lame in her knees with the gout, and therefore 
seldom stirred out of her room ; so sometimes wanted 
company; and hers was so highly amusing to me, that 
I was sure to spend an evening with her whenever 
she desired it. Our supper was only half an anchovy 
each, on a very little slice of bread and butter, and 
half a pint of ale between us ; but the entertainment 
was in her conversation. My always keeping good 
hours, and giving little trouble in the family, made her 
unwilling to part with me; so that, when I talked of 
a lodging I had heard of, nearer my business, for two 
shillings a week, which, intent as I was on saving 
money, made some difference, she bid me not think 
of it, for she would abate me two shillings a week for 
the future ; so I remained with her at one shilling and 
sixpence as long as I stayed in London. 

In a garret of her house there lived a maiden lady 
of seventy, in the most retired manner, of whom my 
landlady gave me this account ; that she was a Ro- 
man Catholic, had been sent abroad when young, and 
lodged in a nunnery with an intent of becoming a 
nun ; but, the country not agreeing with her, she re- 
turned to England, where, there being no nunnery, 
she had vowed to lead the life of a nun, as near as 
might be done in those circumstances. Accordingly 
she had given all her estate to charitable purposes, re- 
serving only twelve pounds a year to live on, and out 
of this sum she still gave a part in charity, living her- 

^Et. 20.] life of franklin. 63 

self on water-gruel only, and using no fire but to boil 
it. She had lived many years in that garret, being 
permitted to remain there gratis by successive Catholic 
tenants of the house below, as they deemed it a bless- 
ing to have her there. A priest visited her, to confess 
her every day. "From this I asked her," said my 
landlady, "how she, as she lived, could possibly find 
so much employment for a confessor?" "Oh," said 
she, "it is impossible to avoid vain thoughts" I was 
permitted once to visit her. She was cheerful and 
polite, and conversed pleasantly. The room was clean, 
but had no other furniture than a mattress, a table with 
a crucifix, and a book, a stool which she gave me to 
sit on, and a picture over the chimney of St. Veronica 
displaying her handkerchief, with the miraculous figure 
of Christ's bleeding face on it, which she explained 
to me with great seriousness. She looked pale, but 
was never sick; and I give it as another instance, on 
how small an income life and health may be supported. 

At Watts's printing-house I contracted an acquaint- 
ance with an ingenious young man, one Wygate, who, 
having wealthy relations, had been better educated than 
most printers ; was a tolerable Latinist, spoke French, 
and loved reading. I taught him and a friend of his 
to swim, at twice going into the river, and they soon 
became good swimmers. They introduced me to some 
gentlemen from the country, who went to Chelsea by 
water, to see the College and Don Saltero's curiosities. 
In our return, at the request of the company, whose 
curiosity Wygate had excited, I stripped and leaped 
into the river, and swam from near Chelsea to Black- 
friars; performing in the way many feats of activity, 
both upon and under the water, that surprised and 
pleased those to whom they were novelties. 

I had from a child been delighted with this exer- 

64 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1726. 

cise, had studied and practised Thevenot's motions 
and positions, and added some of my own, aiming at 
the graceful and easy, as well as the useful.* All these 
I took this occasion of exhibiting (o the company, and 
was much flattered by their admiration ; and Wygate, 
who was desirous of becoming a master, grew more and 
more attached to me on that account, as well as from 
the similarity of our studies. He at length proposed 
to me travelling all over Europe together, supporting 
ourselves everywhere by working at our business. I 
was once inclined to it ; but, mentioning it to my good 
friend Mr. Denham, with whom I often spent an hour 
when I had leisure, he dissuaded me from it ; advising 
me to think only of returning to Pennsylvania, which 
he was now about to do. 

I must record one trait of this good man's charac- 
ter. He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but 
failed in debt to a number of people, compounded, 
and went to America. There, by a close application 
to business as a merchant, he acquired a plentiful for- 
tune in a few years. Returning to England in the 
ship with me, he invited his old creditors to an enter- 
tainment, at which he thanked them for the easy com- 
position they had favored him with, and, when they 
expected nothing but the treat, every man at the first 
remove found under his plate an order on a banker 
for the full amount of the unpaid remainder, with 

He now told me, he was about to return to Phila- 
delphia, and should carry over a great quantity of 
goods in order to open a store there. He proposed 
to take me over as his clerk, to keep his books, in 

* He wrote two interesting papers on the art of swimming. See 
Vol. VI. pp. 286, 290. — Editor. 

iEx. 20.] life of franklin. 65 

which he would instruct me, copy his letters, and attend 
the store. He added, that, as soon as I should be ac- 
quainted with mercantile business, he would promote 
me by sending me with a cargo of flour and bread to 
the West Indies, and procure me commissions from 
others which would be profitable ; and, if I managed 
well, would establish me handsomely. The thing 
pleased me ; for I was grown tired of London, remem- 
bered with pleasure the happy months I had spent in 
Pennsylvania, and wished again to see it. Therefore I 
immediately agreed on the terms of fifty pounds a year, 
Pennsylvania money ; less indeed than my then present 
gettings as a compositor, but affording a better prospect. 
I now took leave of printing, as I thought, for ever, 
and was daily employed in my new business, going 
about with Mr. Denham among the tradesmen to pur- 
chase various articles, and see them packed up, deliver- 
ing messages, calling upon workmen to despatch, &c.; 
and, when all was on board, I had a few days' leisure. 
On one of these days, I was, to my surprise, sent for 
-by a great man I knew only by name, Sir William 
Wyndham, and I waited upon him. He had heard 
by some means or other of my swimming from Chelsea 
to Blackfriars, and of my teaching Wygate and another 
young man to swim in a few hours. He had two 
sons, about to set out on their travels ; he wished to 
have them first taught swimming, and proposed to 
gratify me handsomely if I would teach them. They 
were not yet come to town, and my stay was uncer- 
tain ; so I could not undertake it. But from the in- 
cident I thought it likely, that if I were to remain in 
England and open a swimming- school, I might get a 
good deal of money ; and it struck me so strongly, 
that, had the overture been made me sooner, probably 
I should not so soon have returned to America. Many 

VOL. I. 9 F * 

66 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1726. 

years after, you and I had something of more impor- 
tance to do with one of these sons of Sir William 
Wyndham, become Earl of Egremont, which I shall 
mention in its place. 

Thus I passed about eighteen months in London; 
most part of the time I worked hard at my busi- 
ness, and spent but little upon myself except in see- 
ing plays, and in books. My friend Ralph had kept 
me poor ; he owed me about twenty-seven pounds, 
which I was now never likely to receive ; a great sum 
out of my small earnings ! I loved him, notwithstand- 
ing, for he had many amiable qualities. I had improved 
my knowledge, however, though I had by no means 
improved my fortune ; but I had made some very in- 
genious acquaintance, whose conversation was of great 
advantage to me; and I had read considerably. 

jEt. 20.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 67 


Voyage from London to Philadelphia. — His mercantile Plans defeated 
by the Death of Mr. Denham. — Accepts an Offer from Keimer to 
superintend his Printing Establishment. — Description of the Workmen 
in the Printing-house. — Resolves to separate from Keimer, and com- 
mence Business on his own Account. — Engraves the Plates for Paper 
Money in New Jersey, and prints the Bills. — His Views of Religion. 
— Account of his London Pamphlet. — A New Version of the Lord's 
Prayer, with Explanatory Remarks. — Forms a Partnership with Hugh 
Meredith in the Printing Business. 

We sailed from Gravesend on the 23d of July, 1726. 
For the incidents of the voyage, I refer you to my 
Journal,* where you will find them all minutely related. 
Perhaps the most important part of that journal is the 
plan t to be found in it, which I formed at sea, for 
regulating the future conduct of my life. It is the 
more remarkable, as being formed when I was so 
young, and yet being pretty faithfully adhered to quite 
through to old age. 

We landed at Philadelphia the 11th of October, 
where I found sundry alterations. Keith was no longer 
governor, being superseded by Major Gordon; I met 
him walking the streets as a common citizen. He 
seemed a little ashamed at seeing me, and passed 
without saying any thing. I should have been as much 
ashamed at seeing Miss Read, had not her friends, 
despairing with reason of my return, after the receipt 
of my letter, persuaded her to marry another, one 
Rogers, a potter, which was done in my absence. 
With him, however, she was never happy, and soon 

* See Appendix, No. II. 

f This plan does not exist in the manuscript Journal found among 
Dr. Franklin's papers ; which appears, by a note thereon, to be a " copy 
made at Reading, in Pennsylvania, October 2d, 1787." — W. T. F. 

68 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

parted from him, refusing to cohabit with him, or bear 
his name, it being now said he had another wife. He 
was a worthless fellow, though an excellent workman, 
which was the temptation to her friends. He got into 
debt, ran away in 1727 or 1728, went to the West 
Indies, and died there. Keimer had got a better house, 
a shop well supplied with stationery, plenty of new 
types, and a number of hands, though none good, 
and seemed to have a great deal of business. 

Mr. Denham took a store in Water Street, where 
we opened our goods ; I attended the business dili- 
gently, studied accounts, and grew in a little time ex- 
pert at selling. We lodged and boarded together; he 
counselled me as a father, having a sincere regard for 
me. I respected and loved him, and we might have 
gone on together very happily; but, in the beginning 
of February, 1727, when I had just passed my twenty- 
first year, we both were taken ill. My distemper was 
a pleurisy, which very nearly carried me off. I suffered 
a good deal, gave up the point in my own mind, and 
was at the time rather disappointed when I found my- 
self recovering ; regretting, in some degree, that I must 
now, some time or other, have all that disagreeable 
work to go over again. I forget what Mr. Denham's 
distemper was ; it held him a long time, and at length 
carried him off. He left me a small legacy in a nun- 
cupative will, as a token of his kindness for me, and 
he left me once more to the wide world ; for the store 
was taken into the care of his executors, and my em- 
ployment under him ended. 

My brother-in-law, Holmes, being now at Philadel- 
phia, advised my return to my business ; and Keimer 
tempted me, with an offer of large wages by the year, 
to come and take the management of his printing- 
house, that he might better attend to his stationer's 

Mt. 21.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 69 

shop. I had heard a bad character of him in London, 
from his wife and her friends, and was not for having 
any more to do with him. I wished for employment 
as a merchant's clerk ; . but, not meeting with any, I 
closed again with Keimer. I found in his house these 
hands ; Hugh Meredith, a Welsh Pennsylvanian, thirty 
years of age, bred to country work ; he was honest, 
sensible, a man of experience, and fond of reading, but 
addicted to drinking. Stephen Potts, a young coun- 
tryman of full age, bred to the same, of uncommon 
natural parts, and great wit and humor; but a little 
idle. These he had agreed with at extreme low wa- 
ges per week, to be raised a shilling every three months, 
as they would deserve by improving in their business ; 
and the expectation of these high wages, to come on 
hereafter, was what he had drawn them in with. Mere- 
dith was to work at press, Potts at bookbinding, 
which he by agreement was to teach them, though 

he knew neither one nor the other. John , a 

wild Irishman, brought up to no business, whose ser- 
vice, for four years, Keimer had purchased from the 
captain of a ship ; he too was to be made a pressman. 
George Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time for four 
years he had likewise bought, intending him for a 
compositor, of whom more presently ; and David Har- 
ry, a country boy, whom he had taken apprentice. 

I soon perceived, that the intention of engaging me 
at wages, so much higher than he had been used to 
give, was, to have these raw, cheap hands formed 
through me ; and, as soon as I had instructed them, 
they being all articled to him, he should be able to 
do without me. I went however very cheerfully, put 
his printing-house in order, which had been in great 
confusion, and brought his hands by degrees to mind 
their business and to do it better. 

70 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

It was an odd thing to find an Oxford scholar in 
the situation of a bought servant. He was not more 
than eighteen years of age, and he gave me this ac- 
count of himself; that he was born in Gloucester, 
educated at a grammar school, and had been distin- 
guished among the scholars for some apparent supe- 
riority in performing his part, when they exhibited 
plays ; belonged to the Wits' Club there, and had 
written some pieces in prose and verse, which were 
printed in the Gloucester, newspapers. Thence was 
sent to Oxford; there he continued about a year, but 
not well satisfied ; wishing of all things to see Lon- 
don, and become a player. At length receiving his 
quarterly allowance of fifteen guineas, instead of dis- 
charging his debts, he went out of town, hid his gown 
in a furze bush, and walked to London ; where, hav- 
ing no friend to advise him, he fell into bad company, 
soon spent his guineas, found no means of being in- 
troduced among the players, grew necessitous, pawned 
his clothes, and wanted bread. Walking the street 
very hungry, not knowing what to do with himself, a 
crimp's bill was put into his hand, offering immediate 
entertainment and encouragement to such as would 
bind themselves to serve in America. He went di- 
rectly, signed the indentures, was put into the ship, 
and came over; never writing a line to his friends to 
acquaint them what was become of him. He was 
lively, witty, good-natured, and a pleasant companion; 
but idle, thoughtless, and imprudent to the last degree. 

John, the Irishman, soon ran away ; with the rest I 
began to live very agreeably, for they all respected me 
the more, as they found Keimer incapable of instruct- 
ing them, and that from me they learned something 
daily. My acquaintance with ingenious people in the 
town increased. We never worked on Saturday, that 


being Keimer' s Sabbath, so that I had two days for 
reading. Keimer himself treated me with great civility 
and apparent regard, and nothing now made me uneasy 
but my debt to Vernon, which I was yet unable to 
pay, being hitherto but a poor economist. He however 
kindly made no demand of it. 

Our printing-house often wanted sorts, and there 
was no letter-foundery in America; I had seen types 
cast at James's in London, but without much attention 
to the manner; however, I contrived a mould, and 
made use of the letters we had as puncheons, struck 
the matrices in lead, and thus supplied in a pretty 
tolerable way all deficiencies. I also engraved several 
things on occasion ; made the ink ; I was warehouse- 
man, and in short, quite a fac-totum. 

But, however serviceable I might be, I found that 
my services became every day of less importance, as 
the other hands improved in their business ; and, when 
Keimer paid me a second quarter's w T ages, he let me 
know that he felt them too heavy, and thought I 
should make an abatement. He grew by degrees less 
civil, put on more the airs of master, frequently found 
fault, was captious, and seemed ready for an outbreak- 
ing. I went on nevertheless with a good deal of pa- 
tience, thinking that his incumbered circumstances were 
partly the cause. At length a trifle snapped our con- 
nexion; for, a great noise happening near the court- 
house, I put my head out of the window to see what 
was the matter. Keimer, being in the street, looked 
up and saw me, called out to me in a loud voice and 
angry tone, to mind my business ; adding some re- 
proachful words, that nettled me the more for their 
publicity ; all the neighbours who were looking out on 
the same occasion being witnesses how I w r as treated. 
He came up immediately into the printing-house, con- 

72 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

tinued the quarrel, high words passed on both sides, 
he gave me the quarter's warning we had stipulated, 
expressing a wish that he had not been obliged to so 
long a warning. I told him his wish was unnecessary, 
for I would leave him that instant; and so taking my 
hat walked out of doors, desiring Meredith, whom I 
saw below, to take care of some things I left, and 
bring them to my lodgings. 

Meredith came accordingly in the evening, when we 
talked my affair over. He had conceived a great re- 
gard for me, and was very unwilling that I should 
leave the house while he remained in it. He dissuaded 
me from returning to my native country, which I be- 
gan to think x)f; he reminded me, that Keimer was in 
debt for all he possessed, that his creditors began to 
be uneasy ; that he kept his shop miserably, sold often 
without a profit for ready money, and often trusted 
without keeping accounts; that he must therefore fail, 
which would make a vacancy I might profit of. I ob- 
jected my want of money. He then let me know, 
that his father had a high opinion of me, and, from 
some discourse that had passed between them, he was 
sure would advance money to set me up, if I would 
enter into partnership with him. " My time," said he, 
" will be out with Keimer in the spring ; by that time 
we may have our press and types in from London. I 
am sensible I am no workman; if you like it, your 
skill in the business shall be set against the stock I 
furnish, and we will share the profits equally." 

The proposal was agreeable to me, and I consented ; 
his father was in town and approved of it; the more 
as he said I had great influence with his son, had 
prevailed on him to abstain long from dram-drinking, 
and he hoped might break him of that wretched habit 
entirely, when we came to be so closely connected. 


I gave an inventory to the father, who carried it to a 
merchant ; the things were sent for, the secret was to 
be kept till they should arrive, and in the mean time 
I was to get work, if I could, at the other printing- 
house. But I found no vacancy there, and so remained 
idle a few days, when Keimer, on a prospect of being 
employed to print some paper money in New Jersey, 
which would require cuts and various types, that I 
only could supply, and apprehending Bradford might 
engage me and get the job from him, sent me a very 
civil message, that old friends should not part for a 
few words, the effect of sudden passion, and wishing 
me to return. Meredith persuaded me to comply, as 
it would give more opportunity for his improvement 
under my daily instructions ; so I returned, and we 
went on more smoothly than for some time before. 
The New Jersey job was obtained, I contrived a 
copper-plate press for it, the first that had been seen 
in the country; I cut several ornaments and checks 
for the bills. We went together to Burlington, where 
I executed the whole to satisfaction ; and he received 
so large a sum for the work as to be enabled thereby 
to keep himself longer from ruin. 

At Burlington I made acquaintance with many prin- 
cipal people of the province. Several of them had 
been appointed by the Assembly a committee to at- 
tend the press, and take care that no more bills were 
printed than the law directed. They were therefore 
by turns constantly with us, and generally he who at- 
tended brought with him a friend or two for company. 
My mind having been much more improved by read- 
ing than Keimer's, I suppose it was for that reason 
my conversation seemed to be more valued. They 
had me to their houses, introduced me to their friends, 
and showed me much civility; while he, though the 

VOL. I. 10 G 

74 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

master, was a little neglected. In truth, he was an 
odd creature ; ignorant of common life, fond of rudely 
opposing received opinions, slovenly to extreme dirti- 
ness, enthusiastic in some points of religion, and a little 
knavish withal. 

We continued there near three months ; and by 
that time I could reckon among my acquired friends, 
Judge Allen, Samuel Bustill, the Secretary of the Prov- 
ince, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper, and several of the 
Smiths, members of Assembly, and Isaac Decow, the 
Surveyor-General. The latter was a shrewd, saga- 
cious old man, who told me, that he began for himself 
when young by wheeling clay for the brickmakers, 
learned to write after he was of age, carried the chain 
for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he had 
now by his industry acquired a good estate ; and said 
he, "I foresee, that you will soon work this man out 
of his business, and make a fortune in it at Philadel- 
phia." He had then not the least intimation of my 
intention to set up there or anywhere. These friends 
were afterwards of great use to me, as I occasionally 
was to some of them. They all continued their re- 
gard for me as long as they lived. 

Before I enter upon my public appearance in busi- 
ness, it may be well to let you know the then state of 
my mind, with regard to my principles and morals, 
that you may see how far those influenced the future 
events of my life. My parents had early given me 
religious impressions, and brought me through my child- 
hood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce 
fifteen, when, after doubting by turns several points, as 
I found them disputed in the different books I read, I 
began to doubt of the Revelation itself. Some books 
against Deism fell into my hands ; they were said to 
be the substance of the sermons, which had been 

Mt.M.] life of franklin. 75 

preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened, that they 
wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was 
intended by them. For the arguments of the Deists, 
which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me 
much stronger than the refutations ; in short, I soon 
became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted 
some others, particularly Collins and Ralph ; but, each 
of these having wronged me greatly without the least 
compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards 
me, (who was another freethinker,) and my own 
towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave 
me great trouble ; I began to suspect that this doc- 
trine, though it might be true, was not very useful. 
My London pamphlet, printed in 1725,* which had for 
its motto these lines of Dryden ; 

" Whatever is, is right. But purblind man 
Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest links ; 
His eyes not carrying to that equal beam, 
That poises all above;" 

and which from the attributes of God, his infinite wis- 
dom, goodness, and power, concluded that nothing 
could possibly be wrong in the world ; and that vice and 
virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing ; 
appeared now not so clever a performance as I once 

* Dr. Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Vaughan, dated November 9th, 
1779, gives a further account of this pamphlet in these words. 

"It was addressed to Mr. J. R., that is, James Ralph, then a youth 
of about my age, and my intimate friend ; afterwards a political writer 
and historian. The purport of it was to prove the doctrine of fate, from 
the supposed attributes of God ; in some such manner as this. That in 
erecting and governing the world, as he was infinitely wise, he knew 
what would be best ; infinitely good, he must be disposed, and infinitely 
powerful, he must be able, to execute it. Consequently all is right. 

"There were only a hundred copies printed, of which I gave a few 
to friends ; and afterwards disliking the piece, as conceiving it might 
have an ill tendency, I burnt the rest, except one copy, the margin of 
which was filled with manuscript notes by Lyons, author of the Infalli- 
hility of Human Judgment, who was at that time another of my acquaint- 

76 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

thought it ; and I doubted whether some error had not 
insinuated itself unperceived into my argument, so as 
to infect all that followed, as is common in metaphysical 

I grew convinced, that truth, sincerity, and integrity, 
in dealings between man and man, were of the ut- 
most importance to the felicity of life; and I formed 
written resolutions, which still remain in my journal 
book, to practise them ever while I lived-* Revelation 
had indeed no weight with me, as such ; but I enter- 
tained an opinion, that, though certain actions might 
not be bad, because they were forbidden by it, or good 
because it commanded them ; yet probably those ac- 
tions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, 
or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in 
their own natures, all the circumstances of things con- 
sidered. And this persuasion, with the kind hand of 
Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental fa- 
vorable circumstances and situations, or all together, 
preserved me, through this dangerous time of youth, 
and the hazardous situations I was sometimes in among 
strangers, remote from the eye and advice of my father, 
free from any wilful gross immorality or injustice, that 

ance in London. I was not nineteen years of age when it was written. 
In 1730, 1 Avrote a piece on the other side of the question, which began 
with laying for its foundation this fact ; « That almost all men in all ages 
and countries have at times made use of prayer.' Thence I reasoned, 
that, if all things are ordained, prayer must among the rest be ordained. 
But, as prayer can procure no change in things that are ordained, praying 
must then be useless, and an absurdity. God would therefore not or- 
dain praying if every thing else was ordained. But praying exists, 
therefore all other things are not ordained, &c. This pamphlet was 
never printed, and the manuscript has been long lost. The great un- 
certainty I found in metaphysical reasonings disgusted me, and I quitted 
that kind of reading and study for others more satisfactory." — W. T. F. 

* See Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, Vol. II. p. I. 

Among Franklin's papers I have found a curious manuscript in his 
handwriting, which contains a new version of the Lord's Prayer. The 

Mr. 21.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 77 

might have been expected from my want of religion. 
I say wilful, because the instances I have mentioned 
had something of necessity in them, from my youth, 
inexperience, and the knavery of others. I had there- 
fore a tolerable character to begin the world with; I 
valued it properly, and determined to preserve it. 

We had not been long returned to Philadelphia, 
before the new types arrived from London. We set- 
tled with Keimer, and left him by his consent before 
he heard of it. We found a house to let near the 
Market, and took it. To lessen the rent, which was 
then but twenty-four pounds a year, though I have 

condition and appearance of the manuscript prove it to have been an 
early performance, but its precise date is not known. The form in 
which it is written is here preserved. — Editor. 

Old version. New version, by B. Franklin. 

1. Our Father which art in heaven, 1. Heavenly Father, 

2. Hallowed be thy name. 2. May all revere thee, 

3. Thy kingdom come, 3. And become thy dutiful children 

and faithful subjects. 

4. Thy will be done on earth, as it 4. May thy laws be obeyed on 

is in heaven. earth, as perfectly as they are 

in heaven. 

5. Give us this day our daily bread. 5. Provide for us this day, as thou 

hast hitherto daily done. 

6. Forgive us our debts, as we for- 6. Forgive us our trespasses, and 

give our debtors. enable us to forgive those who 

offend us. 

7. And lead us not into temptation, 7. Keep us out of temptation, and 

but deliver us from evil. deliver us from evil. 

Reasons for the change of expression. 

Old version. — Our Father ivhich art in Heaven. 

New version. — Heavenly Father is more concise, equally expressive, 
and better modern English. 

Old version. — Halloived be thy name. This seems to relate to an 
observance among the Jews not to pronounce the proper or peculiar 
name of God, they deeming it a profanation so to do. We have in our 
language no proper name for God ; the word God being a common, or 
general name, expressing all chief objects of worship, true or false. The 

78 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

since known it to let for seventy, we took in Thomas 
Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who were to pay a 
considerable part of it to us, and we to board with 
them. We had scarce opened our letters and put our 
press in order, before George House, an acquaintance 
of mine, brought a countryman to us, whom he had 
met in the street, inquiring for a printer. All our 
cash was now expended in the variety of particulars 
we had been obliged to procure, and this country- 
man's five shillings, being our first-fruits, and coming 
so seasonably, gave me more pleasure than any crown 
I have since earned; and the gratitude I felt towards 

word hallowed is almost obsolete. People now have but an imper- 
fect conception of the meaning of the petition. It is therefore pro- 
posed to change the expression into 

New version. — May all revere thee. 

Old version. — Thy kingdom come. This petition seems suited to 
the then condition of the Jewish nation. Originally their state was a 
theocracy ; God was their king. Dissatisfied with that kind of govern- 
ment, they desired a visible, earthly king, in the manner of the nations 
around them. They had such kings accordingly ; but their happiness 
was not increased by the change, and they had reason to wish and pray 
for a return of the theocracy, or government of God. Christians in 
these times have other ideas, when they speak of the kingdom of God, 
such as are perhaps more adequately expressed by the 

New version. — Become thy dutiful children and faithful subjects. 

Old version. — Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; more 

New version. — May thy laws be obeyed on earth, as perfectly as they 
are in heaven. 

Old version. — Give ns this day our daily bread. — Give us what is 
ours seems to put in a claim of right, and to contain too little of the 
grateful acknowledgment and sense of dependence that become crea- 
tures, who live on the daily bounty of their Creator. Therefore it is 
changed to 

New version. — Provide for us this day, as thou hast hitherto daily done. 

Old version. — Forgive us our debts ) as we forgive our debtors. (Mat- 
thew). Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted 
to us. (Luke). Offerings were due to God on many occasions by the 
Jewish law, which, when people could not pay, or had forgotten, as 
debtors are apt to do, it was proper to pray that those debts might be 

.Et. 21.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 79 

House has made me often more ready, than perhaps I 
otherwise should have been, to assist young beginners. 
There are croakers in every country, always boding 
its ruin. Such a one there lived in Philadelphia; a 
person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a 
very grave manner of speaking ; his name w r as Samuel 
Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopped me 
one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young 
man, who had lately opened a new printing-house ? 
Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was 
sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, 
and the expense would be lost ; for Philadelphia was a 
sinking place, the people already half bankrupts, or 

forgiven. Our Liturgy uses neither the debtors of Matthew, nor the 
indebted of Luke, but instead of them speaks of those that trespass against 
us. Perhaps the considering it as a Christian duty to forgive debtors 
was by the compilers thought an inconvenient idea in a trading nation. 
There seems, however, something presumptuous in this mode of expres- 
sion, which has the air of proposing ourselves as an example of goodness 
fit for God to imitate. We hope you will at least be as good as we are ; 
you see we forgive one another, and therefore we pray that you would 
forgive us. Some have considered it in another sense. Forgive us as 
we forgive others. That is, if we do not forgive others, we pray that 
thou wouldst not forgive us. But this, being a kind of conditional im- 
precation against ourselves, seems improper in such a prayer ; and there- 
fore it may be better to say humbly and modestly 

New version. — Forgive us our trespasses, and enable us likewise io 
forgive those who offend us. This, instead of assuming that we have 
already in and of ourselves the grace of forgiveness, acknowledges our 
dependence on God, the Fountain of Mercy, for any share we may have 
of it, praying that he would communicate it to us. 

Old version. — And lead us not into temptation. The Jews had a 
notion, that God sometimes tempted, or directed, or permitted, the tempt- 
ing of people. Thus it was said, he tempted Pharaoh, directed Satan 
to tempt Job, and a false Prophet to tempt Ahab. Under this persua- 
sion, it was natural for them to pray, that he would not put them to such 
severe trials. We now suppose that temptation, so far as it is super- 
natural, comes from the Devil only ; and this petition continued conveys 
a suspicion, which, in our present conceptions, seems unworthy of God : 
therefore it might be altered to 

New version. — Keep us out of temptation. 

80 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1727. 

near being so; all the appearances of the contrary, 
such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to 
his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were in fact 
among the things that would ruin us. Then he gave 
me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that 
were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. 
Had I known him before I engaged in this business, 
probably I never should have done it. This person 
continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim 
in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a 
house there, because all was going to destruction ; and 
at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times 
as much for one, as he might have bought it for when 
he first began croaking. 

jEt. 22.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 81 


The Junto. — Description of its original Members. — Franklin writes the 
"Busy Body." — Establishes a Newspaper. — Partnership with Mere- 
dith dissolved. — Writes a Tract on the Necessity of a Paper Cur- 
rency. — Opens a Stationer's Shop. — His Habits of Industry and Fru- 
gality. — Courtship. — Marriage. 

I should have mentioned before, that, in the au- 
tumn of the preceding year, I had formed most of my 
ingenious acquaintance into a club for mutual improve- 
ment, which we called the Junto ; we met on Friday 
evenings. The rules that I drew up required, that 
every member in his turn should produce one or more 
queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural 
Philosophy, to be discussed by the company ; and once 
in three months produce and read an essay of his own 
writing, on any subject he pleased. Our debates were 
to be under the direction of a president, and to be 
conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, 
without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory ; and, 
to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in 
opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time 
made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary 

The first members were Joseph Breintnal, a copier 
of deeds for the scriveners, a good-natured, friendly, 
middle-aged man, a great lover of poetry, reading all 
he could meet with, and writing some that was toler- 
able; very ingenious in making little nicknackeries, 
and of sensible conversation. 

Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, great 
in his way, and afterwards inventor of what is now 

VOL. I. 11 

82 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1728. 

called Hadley's Quadrant* But he knew little out of 
his way, and was not a pleasing companion ; as, like 
most great mathematicians I have met with, he ex- 
pected universal precision in every thing said, or was 
for ever denying or distinguishing upon trifles, to the 
disturbance of all conversation. He soon left us. 

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, afterwards surveyor- 
general, who loved books, and sometimes made a few 

William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but, loving read- 
ing, had acquired a considerable share of mathematics, 
which he first studied with a view to astrology, and 
afterwards laughed at it. He also became surveyor- 

William Maugridge, joiner, but a most exquisite 
mechanic, and a solid, sensible man. 

Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, 
I have characterized before. 

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, 
generous, lively, and witty ; a lover of punning and of 
his friends. 

Lastly, William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, 
about my age, who had the coolest, clearest head, the 
best heart, and the exactest morals, of almost any man 
I ever met with. He became afterwards a merchant 
of great note, and one of our provincial judges. Our 
friendship continued without interruption to his death, 
upwards of forty years ; and the club continued al- 
most as long, and was the best school of philosophy, 
morality, and politics, that then existed in the province ; 
for our queries, which were read the week preceding 
their discussion, put us upon reading with attention on 

* Godfrey's claims to this invention are fully explained and confirmed 
in Mikler's Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I, pp. 468-480, 


the several subjects, that we might speak more to the 
purpose; and here too we acquired better habits of 
conversation, every thing being studied in our rules, 
which might prevent our disgusting each other. Hence 
the long continuance of the club, which I shall have 
frequent occasion to speak further of hereafter.* 

But my giving this account of it here, is to show 
something of the interest I had, every one of these 
exerting themselves in recommending business to us. 
Breintnal particularly procured us from the Quakers the 
printing of forty sheets of their history, the rest being 
to be done by Keimer ; and upon these we worked 
exceedingly hard, for the price was low. It was a 
folio, pro patrid size, in pica, with long primer notes. 
I composed a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off 
at press ; it was often eleven at night, and sometimes 
later, before I had finished my distribution for the next 
day's work. For the little jobs sent in by our other 
friends now and then put us back. But, so deter- 
mined I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the 
folio, that one night, when, having imposed my forms, I 
thought my day's work over, one of them by accident 
was broken, and two pages reduced to pie. I im- 
mediately distributed, and composed it over again be- 
fore I went to bed ; and this industry, visible to our 
neighbours, began to give us character and credit; 
particularly I was told, that mention being made of the 
new printing-office, at the merchants' every-night club, 
the general opinion was that it must fail, there being 

* For other particulars about the Junto, see Vol. II. pp. 9, 551. 

Mr. Roberts Vaux read a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsyl- 
vania, in February, 1835, in which he mentions an additional list of mem- 
bers, who belonged subsequently to the Junto. Their names are Hugh 
Roberts, Philip Syng, Enoch Flower, Joseph Wharton, William Griffith, 
Luke Morris, Joseph Turner, Joseph Shippen, Joseph Trotter, Samuel 
Jervis, and Samuel Rhoads. — Editor. 

84 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1729. 

already two printers in the place, Keimer and Bradford ; 
but Dr. Baird (whom you and I saw many years after 
at his native place, St. Andrew's in Scotland) gave a 
contrary opinion ; " For the industry of that Franklin," 
said he, "is superior to any thing I ever saw of the 
kind ; I see him still at work when I go home from 
club, and he- is at work again before his neighbours are 
out of bed." This struck the rest, and we soon after 
had offers from one of them to supply us with station- 
ery ; but as yet we did not choose to engage in shop 

I mention this industry more particularly and the 
more freely, though it seems to be talking in my own 
praise, that those of my posterity, who shall read it, 
may know the use of that virtue, when they see its 
effects in my favor throughout this relation. 

George Webb, who had found a female friend that 
lent him wherewith to purchase his time of Keimer, 
now came to offer himself as a journeyman to us. We 
could not then employ him; but I foolishly let him 
know as a secret, that I soon intended to begin a news- 
paper, and might then have work for him. My hopes 
of success, as I told him, were founded on this ; that 
the then only newspaper, printed by Bradford, was a 
paltry thing, wretchedly managed, no way entertaining, 
and yet w r as profitable to him ; I therefore freely thought 
a good paper would scarcely fail of good encourage- 
ment. I requested Webb not to mention it; but he 
told it to Keimer, who immediately, to be beforehand 
with me, published proposals for one himself, on which 
Webb was to be employed. I was vexed at this ; and, 
to counteract them, not being able to commence our 
paper, I wrote several amusing pieces for Bradford's pa- 
per, under the title of the Busy Body which Breintnal 

Mt. 23.j LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 85 

continued some months.* By this means the attention 
of the public was fixed on that paper, and Keimer's 
proposals, which we burlesqued and ridiculed, were 
disregarded. He began his paper, however ; and, before 
carrying it on three quarters of a year, with at most 
only ninety subscribers, he offered it me for a trifle ; 
and I, having been ready some time to go on with it, 
took it in hand directly ; and it proved in a few years 
extremely profitable to me.f 

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular 
number, though our partnership still continued ; it may 
be, that in fact the whole management of the business 
lay upon me. Meredith was no compositor, a poor 
pressman, and seldom sober. My friends lamented my 
connexion with him, but I was to make the best of it. 

Our first papers made quite a different appearance 

*See Vol. II. p. 13-45. 

f It was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin and Meredith be- 
gan the paper with No. 40, September 25th, 1729. 

A characteristic anecdote has been related of Franklin, illustrative of 
his independence as an editor. Soon after the establishment of his news- 
paper, he found occasion to remark with some degree of freedom on the 
public conduct of one or two persons of high standing in Philadelphia. 
This course was disapproved by some of his patrons, who sought an 
opportunity to convey to him their views of the subject, and what they 
represented to be the opinion of his friends. He listened patiently, and 
replied by requesting that they would favor him with their company at 
supper, and bring with them the other gentlemen, who had expressed 
dissatisfaction. The time arrived, and the guests assembled. He re- 
ceived them cordially, and listened again to their friendly reproofs of 
his editorial conduct. At length supper was announced ; but, when the 
guests had seated themselves around the table, they were surprised to 
see nothing before them but two puddings, made of coarse meal, called 
sawdust puddings in the common phrase, and a stone pitcher filled with 
water. He helped them all, and then applied himself to his own plate, 
partaking freely of the repast, and urging his friends to do the same. 
'They taxed their politeness to the utmost, but all in vain ; their appetites 
refused obedience to the will. Perceiving their difficulty, Franklin at 
last arose and said, "My friends, any one who can subsist upon sawdust 
pudding and water, as I can,"needs no man's patronage." — Editor. 
VOL. I. H 

86 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1729. 

from any before in the province ; a better type, and 
better printed ; but some remarks * of my writing, on 
the dispute then going on between Governor Burnet, 
and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal 
people, occasioned the paper and the manager of it to 
be much talked of, and in a few weeks brought them 
all to be our subscribers. 

Their example was followed by many, and our num- 
ber went on growing continually. This was one of 
the first good effects of my having learned a little to 
scribble ; another was, that the leading men, seeing a 
newspaper now in the hands of those who could also 
handle a pen, thought it convenient to oblige and en- 

* These remarks are in the Pennsylvania Gazette for October 2d, 
1729, and are as follows. 

" His Excellency, Governor Burnet, died unexpectedly about two days 
after the date of this reply to his last message ; and it was thought the 
dispute would have ended with him, or at least have lain dormant till 
the arrival of a new governor from England, who possibly might or 
might not be inclined to enter too vigorously into the measures of his 
predecessor. But our last advices by the post acquaint us, that his 
Honor, the Lieutenant-Governor, on whom the government immediately 
devolves upon the death or absence of the Commander-in-chief, has vig- 
orously renewed the struggle on his own account, of which the particu- 
lars will be seen in our next. 

"Perhaps some of our readers may not fully understand the original 
ground of this warm contest between the Governor and Assembly. It 
seems that people have for these hundred years past enjoyed the privi- 
lege of rewarding the governor for the time being, according to their 
sense of his merit and services; and few or none of their governors have 
complained, or had cause to complain, of a scanty allowance. When the 
late Governor Burnet brought with him instructions to demand a settled 
salary of one thousand pounds sterling per annum, on him and all his 
successors, and the Assembly were required to fix it immediately, he 
insisted on it strenuously to the last, and they as constantly refused it. 
It appears by their votes and proceedings, that they thought it an im- 
position, contrary to their own charter, and to Magna Charta ; and they 
judged that there should be a mutual dependence between the governor 
and governed; and that to make the governor independent would be 
dangerous and destructive to their liberties, and the ready way to estab- 
lish tyranny. They thought, likewise, that the province was not the 
less dependent on the crown of Great Britain, by the governor's depend- 

Mi. 23.-] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 87 

courage me. Bradford still printed the votes, and 
laws, and other public business. He had printed an 
address of the House to the Governor, in a coarse, 
blundering manner ; we reprinted it elegantly and cor- 
rectly, and sent one to every member. They were 
sensible of the difference, it strengthened the hands 
of our friends in the House, and they voted us their 
printers for the year ensuing. 

Among my friends in the House, I must not forget 
Mr. Hamilton, before mentioned, who was then returned 
from England, and had a seat in it. He interested 
himself for me strongly in that instance, as he did in 
many others afterwards, continuing his patronage till 
his death.* 

ing immediately on them and his own good conduct for an ample sup- 
port ; because all acts and laws, which he might be induced to pass, 
must nevertheless be constantly sent home for approbation in order to 
continue in force. Many other reasons were given, and arguments used, 
in the course of the controversy, needless to particularize here, because 
all the material papers relating to it have been already given in our 
public news. 

"Much deserved praise has the deceased governor received for his 
steady integrity in adhering to his instructions, notwithstanding the great 
difficulty and opposition he met with, and the strong temptations offered 
from time to time to induce him to give up the point. And yet, per- 
haps, something is due to the Assembly, (as the love and zeal of that 
country for the present establishment is too well known to suffer any 
suspicion of want of loyalty,) who continue thus resolutely to abide by 
what they think their right, and that of the people they represent ; mau- 
gre all the arts and menaces of a governor famed for his cunning and 
politics, backed with instructions from home, and powerfully aided by 
the great advantage such an officer always has of engaging the principal 
men of a place in his party, by conferring where he pleases so many 
posts of profit and honor. Their happy mother country will perhaps ob- 
serve with pleasure, that though her gallant cocks and matchless dogs 
abate their natural fire and intrepidity, when transported to a foreign 
clime, (as this nation is,) yet her sons in the remotest part of the earth, 
and even to the third and fourth descent, still retain that ardent spirit 
of liberty, and that undaunted courage, which have in every age so 
gloriously distinguished Britons and Englishmen from the rest of 
mankind." — W. T. F. 

* I afterwards obtained for his son Jive hundred pounds. 


Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the 
debt I owed him, but did not press me. I wrote to 
him an ingenuous letter of acknowledgment, craving his 
forbearance a little longer, which he allowed me. As 
soon as I was able, I paid the principal with the in- 
terest, and many thanks ; so that erratum was in some 
degree corrected.* 

But now another difficulty came upon me, which I 
had never the least reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's 
father, who was to have paid for our printing-house, 
according to the expectations given me, was able to 
advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had 
been paid ; and a hundred more were due to the mer- 
chant, who grew impatient and sued us all. We gave 
bail, but saw that, if the money could not be raised in 
time, the suit must soon come to a judgment and 
execution, and our hopeful prospects must, with us, 
be ruined; as the press and letters must be sold for 
payment, perhaps at half price. 

Tn this distress two true friends, whose kindness I 
have never forgotten, nor ever shall forget while I can 
remember any thing, came to me separately, unknown 
to each other, and, without any application from me, 
offered each of them to advance me all the money that 
should be necessary to enable me to take the whole 
business upon myself, if that should be practicable ; 
but they did not like my continuing the partnership 
with Meredith ; who, as they said, was often seen drunk 
in the street, playing at low games in alehouses, much 
to our discredit. These two friends were William Cole- 

* Many years afterwards he had an opportunity of discharging more 
completely this debt of gratitude. While he was minister plenipoten- 
tiary from the United States at the court of France, he rendered very 
important services to a young man, a descendant of Mr. Vernon, who 
passed some time in that country. — Editor. 


man and Robert Grace. I told them I could not pro- 
pose a separation, while any prospect remained of the 
Merediths' fulfilling their part of our agreement ; be- 
cause I thought myself under great obligations to them 
for what they had done, and would do if they could ; 
but, if they finally failed in their performance, and our 
partnership must be dissolved, I should then think my- 
self at liberty to accept the assistance of my friend. 

Thus the matter rested for some time, when I said 
to my partner, " Perhaps your father is dissatisfied at 
the part you have undertaken in this affair of ours, and 
is unwilling to advance for you and me, what he would 
for you. If that is the case, tell me, and I will resign 
the whole to you, and go about my business." " No," 
said he, " my father has really been disappointed, and 
is really unable; and I am unwilling to distress him 
further. I see this is a business I am not fit for. I 
was bred a farmer, and it was folly in me to come 
to town, and put myself, at thirty years of age, an ap- 
prentice to learn a new trade. Many of our Welsh 
people are going to settle in North Carolina, where 
land is cheap. I am inclined to go with them, and 
follow my old employment; you may find friends to 
assist you. If you will take the debts of the company 
upon you, return to my father the hundred pounds he 
has advanced, pay my little personal debts, and give 
me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish 
the partnership and leave the whole in your hands." 
I agreed to this proposal ; it was drawn up in writing, 
signed, and sealed immediately. I gave him what he 
demanded, and he went soon after to Carolina ; whence 
he sent me next year two long letters, containing the 
best account that had been given of that country, the 
climate, the soil, and husbandry, for in those matters 

VOL. I. 12 H* 

90 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1729. 

he was very judicious. I printed them in the papers, 
and they gave great satisfaction to the public. 

As soon as he was gone, I recurred to my two 
friends ; and because I would not give an unkind prefer- 
ence to either, I took half of what each had offered 
and I wanted of one, and half of the other ; paid off the 
company's debts, and went on with the business in my 
own name; advertising that the partnership was dis- 
solved. I think this was in or, about the year 1729.* 

About this time there was a cry among the people 
for more paper money ; only fifteen thousand pounds 
being extant in the province, and that soon to be sunk. 
The wealthy inhabitants opposed any addition, being 
against all paper currency, from the apprehension that 
it would depreciate as it had done in New England, 
to the injury of all creditors. We had discussed this 
point in our Junto, where I was on the side of an ad- 
dition ; being persuaded, that the first small sum struck 
in 1723 had done much good by increasing the trade, 
employment, and number of inhabitants in the prov- 
ince; since I now saw all the old houses inhabited, 
and many new ones building ; whereas I remembered 
well, when I first walked about the streets of Phila- 

# The dissolution of the partnership was a year later, as appears by 
the following- agreement, transcribed from the original in Franklin's hand- 
writing-. — Editor. 

"Be it remembered, that Hugh Meredith and Benjamin Franklin have 
this day separated as partners, and will henceforth act each on his own 
account; and that the said Hugh Meredith, for a valuable consideration 
by him received from the said Benjamin Franklin, hath relinquished, and 
doth hereby relinquish, to the said Franklin, all claim, right, or property 
to or in the printing materials and stock heretofore jointly possessed by 
them in partnership ; and to all debts due to them as partners, in the 
course of their business ; which are all from henceforth the sole property 
of the said Benjamin Franklin. In witness whereof I have hereunto 
•set my hand, this 14th day of July, 1730. 

"Hugh Meredith." 

^Et. 23.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 91 

delphia, eating my roll, I saw many of the houses in 
Walnut Street, between Second and Front Streets, 
with bills on their doors, " To be let" ; and many like- 
wise in Chestnut Street and other streets ; which made 
me think the inhabitants of the city were one after 
another deserting it. 

Our debates possessed me so fully of the subject, 
that I wrote and printed an anonymous pamphlet on 
it, entitled, " The Nature and Necessity of a Paper 
Currency"* It was well received by the common 
people in general ; but the rich men disliked it, for it 
increased and strengthened the clamor for more money ; 
and, they happening to have no writers among them 
that were able to answer it, their opposition slackened, 
and the point was carried by a majority in the House. 

* See Vol. II. p. 253. 

" It is little known, or set down to the commendation of Franklin, 
that, when he was young in business, and stood in need of sundry ar- 
ticles in the line of his profession as a printer, he had the ingenuity to 
make them for himself. In this way he founded letters of lead, en- 
graved various printing ornaments, cut wood-cuts, made printer's ink, 
engraved copperplate vignettes, and made his plate-press." — Watson's 
Annals of Philadelphia, p. 513. 

Mr. Watson relates another anecdote. He says, that the "yellow 
willow tree," now so common throughout the country, was first intro- 
duced into America by Franklin. A wicker basket, made of willow, in 
which some foreign article had been imported, he saw sprouting in a 
ditch, and directed some of the twigs to be planted. They took root, 
and from these shoots are supposed to have sprung all the yellow wil- 
lows, which have grown on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chaptal ascribes to Franklin, also, the introduction of the agricultural 
use of plaster of Paris into the United States. " As this celebrated phi- 
losopher," says he, "wished that the effects of this manure should strike 
the gaze of all cultivators, he wrote in great letters, formed by the use of 
the ground plaster, in a field of clover lying upon the great road, c This 
has been plastered? The prodigious vegetation, which was developed in 
the plastered portion, led him to adopt this method. Volumes upon the 
excellency of plaster would not have produced so speedy a revolution. 
From that period the Americans have imported great quantities of plas- 
ter of Paris." — Chaptal's Agricultural Chemistry, Boston edition, 
p. 73. — Editor. 

92 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1729. 

My friends there, who considered I had been of some 
service, thought fit to reward me, by employing me in 
printing the money; a very profitable job, and a great 
help to me. This was another advantage gained by 
my being able to write. 

The utility of this currency became by time and ex- 
perience so evident, that the principles upon which it 
was founded were never afterwards much disputed ; 
so that it grew soon to fifty-five thousand pounds ; 
and in 1739, to eighty thousand pounds; trade, build- 
ing, and inhabitants all the while increasing. Though 
I now think there are limits, beyond which the quan- 
tity may be hurtful. 

I soon after obtained, through my friend Hamil- 
ton, the printing of the Newcastle paper money, an- 
other profitable job, as I then thought it ; small things 
appearing great to those in small circumstances; and 
these to me were really great advantages, as they were 
great encouragements. Mr. Hamilton procured for me 
also the printing of the laws and votes of that gov- 
ernment ; which continued in my hands as long as I 
followed the business. 

I now opened a small stationer's shop. I had in it 
blanks of all kinds; the correctest that ever appeared 
among us. I was assisted in that by my friend Breint- 
nal. I had also paper, parchment, chapmen's books, 
&c. One Whitemarsh, a compositor I had known in 
London, an excellent workman, now came to me, and 
worked with me constantly and diligently ; and I took 
an apprentice, the son of Aquila Rose. , 

I began now gradually to pay off the debt I was 
under for the printing-house. In order to secure my 
credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not 
only to be in reality industrious and frugal, but to 
avoid the appearances to the contrary. I dressed plain, 

Mr. 03.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 93 

and was seen at no places of idle diversion. I never 
went out a fishing or shooting ; a book indeed some- 
times debauched me from my work, but that was sel- 
dom, was private, and gave no scandal ; and, to show 
that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought 
home the paper I purchased at the stores, through the 
streets on a wheelbarrow. Thus being esteemed an 
industrious, thriving young man, and paying duly for 
what I bought, the merchants who imported stationery 
solicited , my custom ; others proposed supplying me 
with books, and I went on prosperously. In the mean 
time, Keimer's credit and business declining daily, he 
was at last forced to sell his printing-house, to satisfy 
his creditors. He went to Barbadoes, and there lived 
some years in very poor circumstances. 

His apprentice, David Harry, w 7 hom I had instructed 
while I worked with him, set up in his place at Phila- 
delphia, having bought his materials. I was at first 
apprehensive of a powerful rival in Harry, as his friends 
were very able, and had a good deal of interest. I 
therefore proposed a partnership to him, which he for- 
tunately for me rejected with scorn. He was very 
proud, dressed like a gentleman, lived expensively, took 
much diversion and pleasure abroad, ran in debt, and 
neglected his business; upon which, all business left 
him ; and, finding nothing to do, he followed Keimer 
to Barbadoes, taking the printing-house with him. 
There this apprentice employed his former master as 
a journeyman ; they quarrelled often, and Harry went 
continually behindhand, and at length was obliged to 
sell his types and return to country work in Pennsyl- 
vania. The person who bought "them employed Kei- 
mer to use them, but a few years after he died. 

There remained now no other printer in Philadel- 
phia, but the old Bradford ; but he was rich and easy, 

94 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1730. 

did a little in the business by straggling hands, but 
was not anxious about it. However, as he held the 
postoffice, it was imagined he had better opportunities 
of obtaining news, his paper was thought a better dis- 
tributer of advertisements than mine, and therefore had 
many more ; which was a profitable thing to him, and 
a disadvantage to me. For, though I did indeed re- 
ceive and send papers by the post, yet the public 
opinion was otherwise; for what I did send was by 
bribing the riders, who took them privately; Bradford 
being unkind enough to forbid it, which occasioned 
some resentment on my part ; and I thought so mean- 
ly of the practice, that, when I afterwards came into 
his situation, I took care never to imitate it. 

I had hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who 
lived in a part of my house with his wife and children, 
and had one side of the shop for his glazier's busi- 
ness though he worked little, being always absorbed 
in his mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey projected a match 
for me, with a relation's daughter, took opportunities 
of bringing us often together, till a serious courtship 
on my part ensued ; the girl being in herself very de- 
serving. The old folks encouraged me by continual 
invitations to supper, and by leaving us together, till at 
length it was time to explain. Mrs. Godfrey man- 
aged our little treaty. I let her know that I expect- 
ed as much money with their daughter as would pay 
off my remaining debt for the printing-house ; which 
I believe was not thqn above a hundred pounds. She 
brought me word they had no such sum to spare ; I 
said they might mortgage their house in the loan- 
office. The answer to this, after some days, was, that 
they did not approve the match ; that, on inquiry of 
Bradford, they had been informed the printing business 
was not a profitable one, the types would soon be 


worn out and more wanted ; that Keimer and David 
Harry had failed one after the other, and I should 
probably soon follow them ; and therefore I was for- 
bidden the house, and the daughter was shut up. 

Whether this was a real change of sentiment or 
only artifice, on a supposition of our being too far 
engaged in affection to retract, and therefore that we 
should steal a marriage, which would leave them at 
liberty to give or withhold what they pleased, I know 
not. But I suspected the motive, resented it, and went 
no more. Mrs. Godfrey brought me afterwards some 
more favorable accounts of their disposition, and would 
have drawn me on again; but I declared absolutely 
my resolution to have nothing more to do with that 
family. This was resented by the Godfreys, we dif- 
fered, and they removed, leaving me the whole house, 
and I resolved to take no more inmates. 

But this affair having turned my thoughts to mar- 
riage, I looked round me and made overtures of ac- 
quaintance in other places; but soon found, that, the 
business of a printer being generally thought a poor 
one, I was not to expect money with a wife, unless 
with such a one as I should not otherwise think agree- 
able. In the mean time, that hard to be governed 
passion of youth had hurried me frequently into in- 
trigues with low women that fell in my way, which 
were attended with some expense and great incon- 
venience, besides a continual risk to my health by a 
distemper, which of all things I dreaded, though by 
great good luck I escaped it. 

A friendly correspondence as neighbours had con- 
tinued between me and Miss Read's family, who all 
had a regard for me from the time of my first lodg- 
ing in their house. I was often invited there and con- 
sulted in their affairs, wherein I sometimes was of ser- 

96 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1731. 

vice. I pitied poor Miss Read's unfortunate situation, 
who was generally dejected, seldom cheerful, and 
avoided company. I considered my giddiness and in- 
constancy when in London, as in a great degree the 
cause of her unhappiness; though the mother was 
good enough to think the fault more her own than 
mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went 
thither, and persuaded the other match in my absence. 
Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now 
great objections to our union. That match was in- 
deed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being 
said to be living in England; but this could not easi- 
ly be proved, because of the distance, &c; and, though 
there was a report of his death, it was not certain. 
Then, though it should be true, he had left many debts, 
which his successor might be called upon to pay. 
We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and 
I took her to wife, September 1st, 1730. None of the 
inconveniences happened, that we had apprehended ; 
she proved a good and faithful helpmate, assisted me 
much by attending to the shop ; we throve together, 
and ever mutually endeavoured to make each other 
happy. Thus I corrected that great erratum as well 
as I could. 

About this time, our club meeting, not at a tavern, but 
in a little room of Mr. Grace's, set apart for that pur- 
pose, a proposition was made by me, that, since our 
books were often referred to in our disquisitions upon 
the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them 
altogether where we met, that upon occasion they 
might be consulted ; and by thus clubbing our books 
in a common library, we should, while we liked to keep 
them together, have each of us the advantage of using 
the books of all the other members, which would be 
nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole. It 

-Et. 25.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 97 

was liked and agreed to, and we filled one end of the 
room with such books as we could best spare. The 
number was not so great as we expected ; and, though 
they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences 
occurring for want of due care of them, the collection 
after about a year was separated; and each took his 
books home again. 

And now I set on foot my first project of a pub- 
lic nature, that for a subscription library. I drew up 
the proposals, got them put into form by our great 
scrivener, Brockden, and, by the help of my friends in 
the Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shillings 
each to begin with, and ten shillings a year for fifty 
years, the term our company was to continue. We 
afterwards obtained a charter, the company being in- 
creased to one hundred ; this was the mother of all 
the North American subscription libraries, now so 
numerous. It is become a great thing itself, and con- 
tinually goes on increasing. These libraries have im- 
proved the general conversation of the Americans, made 
the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as 
most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have 
contributed in some degree to the stand so generally 
made throughout the colonies in defence of their privi- 

VOL. I. 13 

98 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1731. 


Origin of the Philadelphia Library. — Mode of obtaining Subscrip- 
tions. — Thrives in his Business. — Anecdote of the Silver Spoon and 
China Bowl. — Religious Sentiments and Remarks on Preaching. — 
Scheme for arriving at Moral Perfection. — Explanation of the Scheme. 
— List of Virtues enumerated, and Rules for Practising them. — Di- 
vision of Time, and the Occupation of each Hour. — Amusing Anec- 
dote. — The Art of Virtue. — A Treatise on that Subject proposed. 

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania, 
there was not a good bookseller's shop in any of the 
colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York 
and Philadelphia, the printers were indeed stationers, 
but they sold only paper, almanacs, ballads, and a few 

* Down to this period the Memoir was written in the year 1771, and 
the task was then laid aside for several years. In the mean time, the 
manuscript was shovfrn to several of the author's friends, who pressed 
him to complete what he had begun. He accordingly yielded to their 
solicitations, and, to the part with which this chapter commences, he 
prefixed the following introductory remarks, and also the two letters to 
which he alludes. 
"Continuation of the Account of my Life, begun at Passy, near Paris, 1784. 

"It is some time since I received the above letters, but I have been 
too busy till now to think of complying with the request they contain. 
It might, too, be much better done if I were at home among my papers, 
which would aid my memory, and help to ascertain dates; but my return 
being uncertain, and having just now a little leisure, I will endeavour 
to recollect and write what I can ; if I live to get home, it may there 
be corrected and improved. 

" Not having any copy here of what is already written, I know not 
whether an account is given of the means I used to establish the Phila- 
delphia public library ; which from a small beginning is now become so 
considerable. Though I remember to have come down to near the 
time of that transaction (17130.) I will therefore begin here with an 
account of it, which may be struck out if found to have been already 

The letters referred to were from his friends, Benjamin Vaughan and 
Abel James. They may be found in the Correspondence, Vol. EX. p. 478, 
under the date of January 31st, 1783. — Editor. 

Mt.25.] life of franklin. 99 

common school-books. Those who loved reading were 
obliged to send for their books from England ; the 
members of the Junto had each a few. We had left 
the alehouse, where we first met, and hired a room to 
hold our club in. I proposed, that we should all of 
us bring our books to that room; where they would 
not only be ready to consult in our conferences, but 
become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty 
to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This 
was accordingly done, and for some time contented us. 
Finding the advantage of this little collection, I pro- 
posed to render the benefit from the books more com- 
mon, by commencing a public subscription library. 
I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be 
necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles 
Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agree- 
ment to be subscribed ; by which each subscriber en- 
gaged to pay a certain sum down for the first pur- 
chase of the books, and an annual contribution for 
increasing them. So few were the readers at that 
time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, 
that I was not able with great industry to find more 
than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to 
pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten 
shillings per annum. With this little fund we began. 
The books were imported ; the library was opened one 
day in the week for lending them to the subscribers, 
on their promissory notes to pay double the value if 
not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its 
utility, was imitated by other towns, and in other prov- 
inces. The libraries were augmented by donations; 
reading became fashionable ; and our people, having no 
public amusements to divert their attention from study, 
became better acquainted with books; and in a few 
years were observed by strangers to be better in- 

100 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [1731. 

structed, and more intelligent than people of the same 
rank generally are in other countries. 

When we were about to sign the abovementioned 
articles, which were to be binding on us, our heirs, &c. 
for fifty years, Mr. Brockden, the scrivener, said to us, 
"You are young men, but it is scarcely probable that 
any of you will live to see the expiration of the term 
fixed in the instrument." A number of us, however, 
are yet living; but the instrument was after a few 
years rendered null, by a charter that incorporated 
and gave perpetuity to the company.* 

* It appears by a statement in Mr. Smith's " Notes for a History of the 

Library Company of Philadelphia," that the above "instrument" was 

dated July 1st, 1731. The charter of incorporation was obtained from 

the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania in 1742. Franklin's name stands at 

the head of the list of the persons who applied for the charter, and to 

whom it was granted. The library has grown to be one of the largest in 

America. The spacious and handsome edifice, in which it is contained, 

was erected but a short time before Dr. Franklin's death. It is stated 

in the minutes of the Library Company, as quoted by Mr. Smith, " that, 

upon the suggestion of Dr. Franklin, a large stone was prepared, and 

laid at the southeast corner of the building, with the following inscription, 

composed by the Doctor, except so far as relates to himself, which the 

Committee have taken the liberty of adding to it. 

'Be it remembered, 

In honor of the Philadelphia Youth, 

(Then chiefly artificers,) 

That, in MDCCXXXI, 

They cheerfully 

At the Instance of Benjamin Franklin, 

One of their Number, 

Instituted the Philadelphia Library, 

Which, though small at first, 

Is become highly valuable, and extensively useful. 

And which the Walls of this Edifice 

Are now destined to contain and preserve; 

The first Stone of whose Foundation 

Was here placed 

The 31st of August, MDCCLXXXIX.'" 

The marble statue of Dr. Franklin, which occupies a niche m front 

of the building, was executed in Italy, and presented to the Library 

Company by Mr. William Bingham. — Editor. 

Mt. 25.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 101 

The objections and reluctances I met with, in so- 
liciting the subscriptions, made me soon feel the im- 
propriety of presenting one's self as the proposer of 
any useful project, that might be supposed to raise 
one's reputation in the smallest degree above that of 
one's neighbours, when one has need of their assistance 
to accomplish that project. I therefore put myself as 
much as I could out of sight, and stated it as a scheme 
of a number of friends, who had requested me to go 
about and propose it to such as they thought Jovers 
of reading. In this way my affair went on more 
smoothly, and I ever after practised it on such occa- 
sions; and, from my frequent successes, can heartily 
recommend it. The present little sacrifice of your 
vanity will afterwards be amply repaid. If it remains 
a while uncertain to whom the merit belongs, some one 
more vain than yourself may be encouraged to claim 
it, and then even envy will be disposed to do you jus- 
tice, by plucking those assumed feathers, and restoring 
them to their right owner. 

This library afforded me the means of improvement 
by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or 
two each day ; and thus repaired in some degree the 
loss of the learned education my father once intended 
for me. Reading was the only amusement I allowed 
myself. I spent no time in taverns, games, or frolics 
of any kind ; and my industry in my business con- 
tinued as indefatigable as it was necessary. I was 
indebted for my printing-house ; I had a young family 
coming on to be educated, and I had two competitors 
to contend with for business, who were established in 
the place before me. My circumstances however grew 
daily easier. My original habits of frugality continuing, 
and my father having, among his instructions to me 
when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, 


102 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1731. 

" Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand 
before kings, he shall not stand before mean me?i,"l 
thence considered industry as a means of obtaining 
wealth and distinction, which encouraged me; though 
I did not think, that I should ever literally stand be- 
fore kings, which, however, has since happened; for I 
have stood before five, and even had the honor of sit- 
ting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner. 

We have an English proverb that says, "He that 
would* thrive, must ask his wife" It was lucky for me 
that -I had one as much disposed to industry and fru- 
gality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully in my 
business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, 
purchasing old linen rags for the paper-makers, &,c. 
We kept no idle servants, our table was plain and 
simple, our furniture of the cheapest. For instance, 
my breakfast was for a long time bread and milk (no 
tea), and I ate it out of a two penny earthen porrin- 
ger, with a pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will 
enter families, and make a progress, in spite of princi- 
ple ; being called one morning to breakfast, I found it 
in a China bowl, with a spoon of silver! They had 
been bought for me without my knowledge by my 
wife, and had cost her the enormous sum of three and 
twenty shillings ; for which she had no other excuse 
or apology to make, but that she thought her husband 
deserved a silver spoon and China bowl as well as 
any of his neighbours. This was the first appearance 
of plate and China in our house ; w 7 hich afterwards, in 
a course of years, as our wealth increased, augmented 
gradually to several hundred pounds in value. 

I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian ; 
but, though some of the dogmas of that persuasion, 
such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, 
fyc 9 appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and 

jEt.25.] life of franklin. 103 

I early absented myself from the public assemblies of 
the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was 
without some religious principles. I never doubted, 
for instance, the existence of a Deity ; that he made 
the world and governed it by his providence ; that the 
most acceptable service of God was the doing good to 
man ; that our souls are immortal ; and that all crimes 
will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or 
hereafter.* These I esteemed the essentials of every 
religion ; and, being to be found in all the religions we 
had in our country, I respected them all, though with 
different degrees of respect, as I found them more or 
less mixed with other articles, which, without any ten- 
dency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served 
principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one 
another. This respect to all, with an opinion that the 
worst had some good effects, induced me to avoid all 
discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion 
another might have of his own religion ; and as our 
province increased in people, and new places of wor- 
ship were continually wanted, and generally erected by 
voluntary contribution, my mite for such purpose, what- 
ever might be the sect, was never refused. 

Though I seldom attended any public worship, I 
had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility 
when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual 
subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian 
minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He used 
to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me 
to attend his administrations ; and I was now and 
then prevailed on to do so; once for five Sundays 
successively. Had he been in my opinion a good 

* See Articles of Belief and a Lecture on the Providence of God, 
Vol. II. p. 1, and p. 525. 

104 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1732 

preacher, perhaps I might have continued, notwith- 
standing the occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in 
my course of study; but his discourses were chiefly 
either polemic arguments, or explications of the pe- 
culiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very 
dry, uninteresting, and unedifying ; since not a single 
moral principle was inculcated or enforced; their aim 
seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than 
good citizens. 

At length he took for his text that verse of the 
fourth chapter to the Philippians, "Finally, brethren, 
whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or 
of good report, if there be any virtue, or any praise, 
think on these things" And I imagined, in a sermon on 
such a text, we could not miss of having some moral- 
ity. But he confined himself to five points only, as 
meant by the apostle; 1, Keeping holy the Sabbath 
Day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 
3. Attending duly the public worship. 4. Partaking 
of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's 
ministers. These might be all good things ; but, as 
they were not the kind of good things that I expected 
from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them 
from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preach- 
ing no more. I had some years before composed a little 
liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use, (in 
1728,) entitled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion .* 
I returned to the use of this, and went no more to 
the public assemblies. My conduct might be blama- 
ble, but I leave it, without attempting further to excuse 
it ; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not 
to make apologies for them.t 

* See Vol. II. p. 1. 

•f In Mr. Walsh's " Life of Franklin," published in Delaplaine's Reposi- 
tory, there is an extract, copied from an original paper in Franklin's 

Mr. 26.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 105 

It was about this time I conceived the bold and ar- 
duous project of arriving at moral perfection, I wished 
to live without committing any fault at any time, and 
to conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or 
company, might lead me into. As I knew, or thought 
I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why 
I might not always do the one and avoid the other. 
But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more 
difficulty than I had imagined. While my attention 
was taken up, and care employed in guarding against 
one fault, I was often surprised by another ; habit took 
the advantage of inattention ; inclination was some- 
times too strong for reason. I concluded at length, 
that the mere speculative conviction, that it was our 
interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient 
to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits 

handwriting', which claims insertion in this place, as connected with the 
subject upon which the author is now about to speak. 

"Those, who write of the art of poetry," says Franklin, "teach us, 
that, if we would write what may be worth reading, we ought always, 
before we begin, to form a regular plan and design of our piece ; other- 
wise we shall be in danger of incongruity. I am apt to think it is 
the same as to life. I have never fixed a regular design in life, by 
which means it has been a confused variety of different scenes. I am 
now entering upon a new one ; let me, therefore, make some resolutions, 
and form some scheme of action, that henceforth I may live in all 
respects like a rational creature. 

" 1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till 
I have paid what I owe. 

" 2. To endeavour to speak truth in every instance, to give nobody 
expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in 
every word and action; the most amiable excellence in a rational being. 

"3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in 
hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project 
of growing suddenly rich ; for industry and patience are the surest means 
of plenty. 

" 4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter 
of truth ; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged 
upon others, and, upon proper occasions, speak all the good I know of 
everybody." — Editor. 

vol. i. No 3 14 

106 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [1733. 

must be broken, and good ones acquired and estab- 
lished, before we can have any dependence on a 
steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose 
I therefore tried the following method. 

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I 
had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue 
more or less numerous, as different writers included 
more or fewer ideas under the same name. Tem- 
perance, for example, was by some confined to eating 
and drinking; while by others it was extended to 
mean the moderating every other pleasure, appetite, 
inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our 
avarice and ambition. I proposed to myself, for the 
sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with 
fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few names with 
more ideas ; and I included under thirteen names of 
virtues, all that at that time occurred to me as neces- 
sary or desirable; and annexed to each a short pre- 
cept, which fully expressed the extent I gave to its 

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were; 

1. Temperance. — Eat not to dulness; drink not 
to elevation. 

2. Silence. — Speak not but what may benefit 
others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 

3. Order. — Let all your things have their places ; 
let each part of your business have its time. 

4. Resolution. — Resolve to perform wnat you 
ought ; perform without fail what you resolve. 

5. Frugality. — Make no expense but to do good 
to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing. 

6. Industry. — Lose no time ; be always employed 
in something useful ; cut off all unnecessary actions. 

7. Sincerity. — Use no hurtful deceit ; think inno- 
cently and justly ; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 

Mt.27.] life of franklin. 107 

8. Justice. — Wrong none by doing injuries, or 
omitting the benefits that are your duty. 

9. Moderation. — Avoid extremes; forbear resent- 
ing injuries so much as you think they deserve. 

10. Cleanliness. — Tolerate no uncleanliness in 
body, clothes, or habitation. 

11. Tranquillity. — Be not disturbed at trifles, or 
at accidents common or unavoidable. 

12. Chastity 

13. Humility. — Imitate Jesus and Socrates. 

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all 
these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract 
my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to 
fix it on one of them at a time ; and, when I should 
be master of that, then to proceed to another ; and so 
on, till I should have gone through the thirteen. And, 
as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate 
the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with 
that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as 
it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of 
head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance 
was to be kept up, and a guard maintained against the 
unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force 
of perpetual temptations. This being acquired and 
established, Silence would be more easy ; and my de- 
sire being to gain knowledge at the same time that 
I improved in virtue, and considering that in con- 
versation it was obtained rather by the use of the ear 
than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a 
habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and 
jesting, which only made me acceptable to trifling com- 
pany, I gave Silence the second place. This and the 
next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for 
attending to my project and my studies. Resolution, 
once become habitual, would keep me firm in my en- 

108 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

deavours to obtain all the subsequent virtues ; Frugal- 
ity and Industry relieving me from my remaining debt, 
and producing affluence and independence, would make 
more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, &c. &,c. 
Conceiving then, that, agreeably to the advice of 
Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, daily examination 
would be necessary, I contrived the following method 
for conducting that examination. 

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for 
each of the virtues. I ruled each page with red ink, 
so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the 
week, marking each column with a letter for the day. 
I crossed these columns with thirteen red lines, mark- 
ing the beginning of each line with the first letter of 
one of the virtues ; on which line, and in its proper 
column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every 
fault I found upon examination to have been commit- 
ted respecting that virtue, upon that day.* 

* This little book is dated Sunday, 1st July, 1733. — W. T. F. 

In a letter written by the author to Lord Kames, in November, 1761, 
he thus alludes to the scheme here mentioned, and to the design he then 
had of expanding it into a treatise on the Art of Virtue. In that letter 
he says ; " To produce the number of valuable men necessary in a na- 
tion for its prosperity, there is much more hope from schemes of early 
institution than from reformation. And, as the power of a single man 
to do national service, in particular situations of influence, is often im- 
mensely great, a writer can hardly conceive the good he may be doing, 
when engaged in works of this kind. I cannot, therefore, but wish you 
would publish it ["Elements of Criticism"] as soon as your other im- 
portant employments will permit you to give it the finishing hand. With 
these sentiments you will not doubt my being serious in the intention 
of finishing my Art of Virtue. It is not a mere ideal work. 1 planned 
it first in 1732. I have from time to time made, and caused to be made, 
experiments of the method with success. The materials have been 
growing ever since. The form only is now to be given ; in which I 
purpose employing my first leisure, after my return to my other country." 
This project, as will be seen hereafter, was never carried into effect. 
— Editor. 

Mt. 27.] 




Eat not to dullness ; drink not to elevation. 



































I determined to give a week's strict attention to 
each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first 
week, my great guard was to avoid every the least 
offence against Temperance; leaving the other virtues 
to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening 
the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I 
could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I 
supposed the habit of that virtue so much strengthened, 
and its opposite weakened, that I might venture ex- 
tending my attention to include the next, and for the 

VOL. I. J 

110 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

following week keep both lines clear of spots. Pro- 
ceeding thus to the last, I could get through a course 
complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. 
And like him, who, having a garden to weed, does not 
attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which 
would exceed his reach and his strength, but works 
on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplished 
the first, proceeds to a second; so I should have, I 
hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages 
the progress made in virtue., by clearing successively 
my lines of their spots; till in the end, by a number 
of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, 
after a thirteen weeks' daily examination. 

This my little book had for its motto, these lines 
from Addison's Cato ; 

" Here will I hold. If there 's a power above us, 
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud 
Through all her works,) He must delight in virtue ; 
And that which he delights in must be happy." 

Another from Cicero, 

"O vitse Philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix expultrixque vi- 
tiorum! Unus dies, bene et ex praeceptis tuis actus, peccanti immor- 
talitati est anteponendus." 

Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of 
wisdom or virtue; 

"Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches 
and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are 

And conceiving God to 'be the fountain of wisdom, 
I thought it right and necessary to solicit his assist- 
ance for obtaining it ; to this end I formed the follow- 
ing little prayer, which was prefixed to my tables of 
examination, for daily use. 

" O powerful Goodness ! bountiful Father ! merciful Guide ! Increase 
in me that wisdom, which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my 

&t. 27.] 



resolution to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind 
offices to thy other children, as the only return in my power for thy 
continual favors to me." 

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took 
from Thomson's Poems, viz. 

" Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme ! 
O teach me what is good ; teach me Thyself! 
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice, 
From every low pursuit; and feed my soul 
With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure ; 
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!" 

The precept of Order requiring that every part of 
my business should have its allotted time, one page in 
my little book contained the following scheme of em- 
ployment for the twenty -four hours of a natural day. 


The Question. What good 
shall I do this day ? 

Rise, wash, and address Pow- 
erful Goodness ! Contrive day's 
business, and take the resolution 
of the day ; prosecute the pres- 
ent study, and breakfast. 



Read, or look over my ac- 
counts, and dine. 



The Question. What good 
have I done to-day? 

Put. things in their places. 
Supper. Music or diversion, or 
conversation. Examination of 
the day. 



112 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

I entered upon the execution of this plan for self- 
examination, and continued it with occasional intermis- 
sions for some time. I was surprised to find myself 
so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I 
had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To 
avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little 
book, which, by scraping out the marks on the paper of 
old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, 
became full of holes, I transferred my tables and pre- 
cepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on 
which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made 
a durable stain ; and on those lines I marked my faults 
with a black-lead pencil; which marks I could easily 
wipe out with a wet sponge. After awhile I went 
through one course only in a year; and afterwards 
only one in several years ; till at length I omitted them 
entirely, being employed in voyages and business 
abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs, that interfered ; 
but I always carried my little book with me. 

My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble ; 
and I found, that, though it might be practicable where 
a man's business was such as to leave him the dis- 
position of his time, that of a journeyman printer for 
instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by 
a master, who must mix with the world, and often re- 
ceive people of business at their own hours. Order, 
too, with regard to places for things, papers, &c, I 
found extremely difficult to acquire. I had not been 
early accustomed to method, and, having an exceeding- 
ly good memory, I was not so sensible of the incon- 
venience attending want of method. This article, 
therefore, cost me much painful attention, and my faults 
in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress 
in amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that 
I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and con- 

^t. 27.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 113 

tent myself with a faulty character in that respect. 
Like the man, who, in buying an axe of a smith, my 
neighbour, desired to have the whole of its surface as 
bright as the edge. The smith consented to grind it 
bright for him, if he would turn the wheel ; he turned, 
while the smith pressed the broad face of the axe 
hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turn- 
ing of it very fatiguing. The man came every now 
and then from the wheel to see how the work went 
on ; and at length would take his axe as it was, with- 
out further grinding. "No," said the smith, "turn on, 
turn on, we shall have it bright by and by ; as yet it 
is only speckled." " Yes," said the man, " but / think 
I like a speckled axe best" And I believe this may 
have been the case with many, who, having for want 
of some such means as I employed found the difficulty 
of obtaining good and breaking bad habits in other 
points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, 
and concluded that " a speckled axe is best" For 
something, that pretended to be reason, was every now 
and then suggesting to me, that such extreme nicety 
as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in 
morals, which, if it were known, would make me 
ridiculous ; that a perfect character might be attended 
with the inconvenience of being envied and hated ; 
and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults 
in himself, to keep his friends in countenance. 

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to 
Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory 
bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But on the 
whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had 
been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, 
yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier 
man than I otherwise should have been, if I had not 
attempted it ; as those who aim at perfect writing by 

VOL. I. 15 J* 

114 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

imitating the engraved copies, though they never reach 
the wished-for excellence of those copies, their hand 
is mended by the endeavour, and is tolerable while it 
continues fair and legible. 

It may be well my posterity should be informed, 
.that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, 
their ancestor owed the constant felicity of his life, 
down to his seventy-ninth year, in which this is writ- 
ten. What reverses may attend the remainder is in 
the hand of Providence ; but, if they arrive, the reflec- 
tion on past happiness enjoyed ought to help his 
bearing them with more resignation. To Temperance 
he ascribes his long continued health, and what is still 
left to him of a good constitution; to Industry and 
Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances and 
acquisition of his fortune, with all that knowledge that 
enabled him to be a useful citizen, and obtained for 
him some degree of reputation among the learned ; 
to Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his coun- 
try, and the honorable employs it conferred upon him ; 
and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the 
virtues, even in the imperfect state he was able to ac- 
quire them, all that evenness of temper, and that cheer- 
fulness in conversation, which makes his company still 
sought for, and agreeable even to his young acquaint- 
ance. I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants 
may follow the example and reap the benefit. 

It will be remarked, that, though my scheme was 
not wholly without religion, there was in it no mark 
of any of the distinguishing tenets of any particular 
sect. I had purposely avoided them ; for, being fully 
persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, 
and that it might be serviceable to people in all re- 
ligions, and intending some time or other to publish it, 
I would not have any thing in it that should preju- 

Mt.27.] life of franklin. 115 

dice any one, of any sect, against it. I proposed 
writing a little comment on each virtue, in which I 
would have shown the advantages of possessing it, 
and the mischiefs attending its opposite vice ; I should 
have called my book The Art of Virtue, because 
it would have shown the means and manner of ob- 
taining virtue, which would have distinguished it from 
the mere exhortation to be good, that does not in- 
struct and indicate the means; but is like the Apos- 
tle's man of verbal charity, who, without showing to 
the naked and hungry, how or where they might get 
clothes or victuals, only exhorted them to be fed and 
clothed. James ii. 15, 16. 

But it so happened, that my intention of writing 
and publishing this comment was never fulfilled. I 
had, indeed, from time to time, put down short hints 
of the sentiments and reasonings to be made use of 
in it; some of which I have still by me; but the ne- 
cessary close attention to private business in the earlier 
part of life, and public business since, have occasioned 
my postponing it. For, it being connected in my mind 
with a great and extensive project, that required the 
whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen suc- 
cession of employs prevented my attending to, it has 
hitherto remained unfinished. 

In this piece it was my design to explain and en- 
force this doctrine, that vicious actions are not hurtful 
because they are forbidden, but forbidden because they 
are hurtful, the nature of man alone considered ; that 
it was, therefore, every one's interest to be virtuous, 
who wished to be happy even in this world; and I 
should from this circumstance (there being always in 
the world a number of rich merchants, nobility, states, 
and princes, who have need of honest instruments for 
the management of their affairs, and such being so 

116 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

rare) have endeavoured to convince young persons, that 
no qualities are so likely to make a poor man's fortune, 
as those of probity and integrity. 

My list of virtues contained at first but twelve ; but 
a Quaker friend having kindly informed me, that I 
was generally thought proud; that my pride showed 
itself frequently in conversation; that I was not con- 
tent with being in the right when discussing any point, 
but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he 
convinced me by mentioning several instances ; I de- 
termined to endeavour to cure myself, if I could, of 
this vice or folly among the rest; and I added Humility 
to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word. 

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the 
reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with re- 
gard to the appearance of it. I made it a rule to 
forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of 
others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even 
forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, 
the use of every word or expression in the language 
that imported a fixed opinion ; such as certainly, un- 
doubtedly, &x., and I adopted instead of them, 1 con- 
ceive, I apprehend, or / imagine, a thing to be so or 
so ; or it so appears to me at present. When another 
asserted something that I thought an error, I denied 
myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and 
of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposi- 
tion; and in answering I began by observing, that, 
in certain cases or circumstances, his opinion would 
be right, but in the present case there appeared or 
seemed to me some difference, &x. I soon found the 
advantage of this change in my manners ; the conver- 
sations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The 
modest way in which I proposed my opinions, pro- 
cured them a readier reception and less contradiction ; 

Mt.27.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 117 

I had less mortification, when I was found to be in 
the wrong ; and I more easily prevailed with others to 
give up their mistakes and join with me, when I hap- 
pened to be in the right. 

And this mode, which I at first put on with some vio- 
lence to natural inclination, became at length easy, and 
so habitual to me, that perhaps for the last fifty years 
no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape 
me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) 
I think it principally owing, that I had early so much 
weight with my fellow citizens, when I proposed new 
institutions or alterations in the old; and so much in- 
fluence in public councils, when I became a member ; 
for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject 
to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly cor- 
rect in language, and yet I generally carried my point. 

In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural 
passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, 
struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one 
pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then 
peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, 
often in this history. For, even if I could conceive 
that I had completely overcome it, I should probably 
be proud of my humility. 

118 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [173a 


Scheme of a Society for extending the Influence of Virtue. — Belief in 
one God, the Immortality of the Soul, and future Rewards and Pun- 

- ishments. — Poor Richard's Almanac. — Rules for conducting a News- 
paper. — Controversy concerning Hemphill, the Preacher. — Studies 
the French, Italian, and Spanish Languages. — Visits Boston. — The 
Junto. — Chosen Clerk of the Assembly. — Appointed Postmaster of 
Philadelphia. — Suggests Improvements in the City Watch. — Estab- 
lishes a Fire Company. 

Having mentioned a great and extensive project, 
which I had conceived, it seems proper that some ac- 
count should be here given of that project and its ob- 
ject. Its first rise in my mind appears in the follow- 
ing little paper, accidentally preserved, viz. 

" Observations on my leading history, in the Library, 
May 9th, 1731. 

" That the great affairs of the world, the wars, and 
revolutions are carried on and effected by parties. 

" That the view of these parties is their present 
general interest, or what they take to be such. 

"That the different views of these different parties 
occasion all confusion. 

"That while a party is carrying on a general de- 
sign, each man has his particular private interest in view. 

"That as soon as a party has gained its general 
point, each member becomes intent upon his particular 
interest ; which, thwarting others, breaks that party into 
divisions, and occasions more confusion. 

* The preceding chapter was written at Passy. In a memorandum, 
which he made when he again resumed the narrative four years after- 
wards, he says, "I am now about to write at home, (Philadelphia,) 
August, 1788, but cannot have the help expected from my papers, many 
of them being lost in the war. I have, however, found the following." 
He then proceeds as in the text. — Editor. 

Mr. 27.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 119 

" That few in public affairs act from a mere view of 
the good of their country, whatever they may pretend ; 
and, though their actings bring real good to their coun- 
try, yet men primarily considered that their own and 
their country's interest were united, and so did not 
act from a principle of benevolence. 

"That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view 
to the good #f mankind. 

"There seems to me at present to be great occa- 
sion for raising a United Party for Virtue, by form- 
ing the virtuous and good men of all nations into a 
regular body, to be governed by suitable good and 
wise rules, which good and wise men may probably 
be more unanimous in their obedience to, than com- 
mon people are to common laws. 

" I at present think, that whoever attempts this aright, 
and is well qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God, and 
of meeting with success." 

Revolving this project in my mind, as to be under- 
taken hereafter, when my circumstances should afford 
me the necessary leisure, I put down from time to 
time, on pieces of paper, such thoughts as occurred to 
me respecting it. Most of these are lost; but I find 
one purporting to be the substance of an intended 
creed, containing, as I thought, the essentials of every 
known religion, and being free of every thing that 
might shock the professors of any religion. It is ex- 
pressed in these words; viz. 

"That there is one God, who made all things. 

" That he governs the world by his providence. 

"That he ought to be worshipped by adoration, 
prayer, and thanksgiving. 

"But that the most acceptable service to God is 
doing good to man. 

"That the soul is immortal. 

120 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and 
punish vice, either here or hereafter." 

My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be 
begun and spread at first among young and single 
men only ; that each person to be initiated should not 
only declare his assent to such creed, but should have 
exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination 
and practice of the virtues, as in the b^forementioned 
model; that the existence of such a society should 
be kept a secret, till it was become considerable, to 
prevent solicitations for the admission of improper per- 
sons; but that the members should, each of them, 
search among his acquaintance for ingenious, well dis- 
posed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the 
scheme should be gradually communicated. That the 
members should engage to afford their advice, as- 
sistance, and support to each other in promoting one 
another's interest, business, and advancement in life. 
That, for distinction, we should be called the society 
of the free and easy. Free, as being, by the gen- 
eral practice and habits of the virtues, free from the 
dominion of vice ; and particularly, by the practice of 
industry and frugality, free from debt, which exposes 
a man to constraint, and a species of slavery to his 

This is as much as I can now recollect of the 
project, except that I communicated it in part to two 
young men who adopted it with some enthusiasm; 
but my then narrow circumstances, and the necessity 
I was under of sticking close to my business, occasioned 
my postponing the further prosecution of it at that 
time ; and my multifarious occupations, public and pri- 
vate, induced me to continue postponing, so that it 
has been omitted, till I have no longer strength or 
activity left sufficient for such an enterprise. Though 

^t. 27.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 121 

I am still of opinion it was a practicable scheme, and 
might have been very useful, by forming a great num- 
ber of good citizens; and I was not discouraged by 
the seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have 
always thought, that one man of tolerable abilities may 
work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among 
mankind, if he first forms a good plan ; and, cutting off 
all amusements or other employments, that would divert 
his attention, makes the execution of that same plan 
his sole study and business. 

In 1732, I first published my Almanac, under the 
name of Richard Saunders ; it was continued by me 
about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor 
Richard's Almanac* I endeavoured to make it both 
entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in 
such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it ; 
vending annually near ten thousand. And observing 
that it was generally read, scarce any neighbourhood in 
the province being without it, I considered it as a proper 
vehicle for conveying instruction among the common 

* Considering the remarkable success of this Almanac, and the great 
celebrity it has attained, particularly the summary of maxims selected 
from it, and published separately under the title of The Way to Wealth, 
(see Vol. II. p. 92,) the reader may be curious to see the advertisement 
of the first number, including the table of contents. It was printed in the 
Pennsylvania Gazette on the 19th of December, 1732, as follows. 

"Just published, for 1733, An Almanac, containing the Lunations, 
Eclipses, Planets' Motions and Aspects, Weather, Sun and Moon's Rising 
and Setting, High Water, &c. ; besides many pleasant and witty Verses, 
Jests, and Sayings ; Author's Motive of Writing ; Prediction of the Death 
of his Friend, Mr. Titan Leeds ; Moon no Cuckold ; Bachelor's Folly : 
Parson's Wine, and Baker's Pudding ; Short Visits ; Kings and Bears ; 
New Fashions ; Game for Kisses ; Katherine's Love ; Different Senti- 
ments ; Signs of a Tempest ; Death of a Fisherman ; Conjugal Debate ; 
Men and Melons; The Prodigal; Breakfast in Bed; Oyster Lawsuit, &c. 
By Richard Saunders, Philomat. Printed and Sold by B. Franklin." 

Such was the eagerness with which this Almanac was sought, that 
three editions were printed before the end of January, and, although he 
VOL. I. 16 K 

122 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

people, who bought scarcely any other books. I there- 
fore filled all the little spaces, that occurred between the 
remarkable days in the Calendar, with proverbial sen- 
tences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, 
as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby secur- 
ing virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want 
to act always honestly, as, to use here one of those 
proverbs, it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright. 
These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of 
many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a 
connected discourse prefixed to the Almanac of 1757, 
as the harangue of a wise old man to the people at- 
tending an auction. The bringing all these scattered 
counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater 
impression. The piece, being universally approved, was 
copied in all the newspapers of the American Conti- 
nent, reprinted in Britain on a large sheet of paper, to 
be stuck up in houses ; two translations were made of 
it in France, and great numbers bought by the cler- 
gy and gentry, to distribute gratis among their poor 

enlarged his first editions for the subsequent years, yet two editions 
were frequently required to supply the demand. In the Almanac for 
1 739, he makes the following apology for its miscellaneous character. 

"Besides the usual things expected in an Almanac, I hope the pro- 
fessed teachers of mankind will excuse my scattering here and there 
some instructive hints in matters of morality and religion. And be not 
thou disturbed, O grave and sober reader, if, among the many serious 
sentences in my book, thou findest me trifling now and then, and talking 
idly. In all the dishes I have hitherto cooked for thee, there is solid 
meat enough for thy money. There are scraps from the table of wisdom, 
that will, if well digested, yield strong nourishment for the mind. But 
squeamish stomachs cannot eat without pickles ; which, it is true, are 
good for nothing else, but they provoke an appetite. The vain youth, 
that reads my Almanac for the sake of an idle joke, will perhaps meet 
with a serious reflection, that he may ever after be the better for." 

It is believed that a complete series of Poor Richard's Almanac is not 
now in existence. After much research I have not been able to find 
more than one third of the numbers that were published. — Editor. 

jEt. 27.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 123 

parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it dis- 
couraged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some 
thought it had its share of influence in producing that 
growing plenty of money, which was observable for 
several years after its publication.* 

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means 
of communicating instruction, and in that view frequent- 
ly reprinted in it extracts from the Spectator, and other 
moral writers ; and sometimes published little pieces 
of my own, which had been first composed for reading 
in our Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tend- 
ing to prove, that, whatever might be his parts and 
abilities, a vicious man could not properly be called a 
man of sense ; and a discourse on self-denial, showing 
that virtue was not secure, till its practice became a 
habitude, and was free from the opposition of contrary 
inclinations. These may be found in the papers about 
the beginning of 1735.f 

In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully ex- 
cluded all libelling and personal abuse, which is of late 
years become so disgraceful to our country. When- 
ever I was solicited to insert any thing of that kind, 
and the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the lib- 
erty of the press ; and that a newspaper was like a 
stagecoach, in which any one who would pay had a 
right to a place ; my answer was, that I would print 
the piece separately if desired, and the author might 
have as many copies as he pleased to distribute him- 
self; but that I would not take upon me to spread 
his detraction ; and that, having contracted with my 
subscribers to furnish them with what might be either 
useful or entertaining, I could not fill their papers 

* See Vol. II. p. 92. 

f The Dialogue was printed in the year 1730; and the other piece in 
1735. Ibid. pp. 46, 63. — Editor. 

124 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1733. 

with private altercation, in which they had no concern, 
without doing them manifest injustice. Now, many of 
our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of 
individuals, by false accusations of the fairest characters 
among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the 
producing of duels ; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as 
to print scurrilous reflections on the government of 
neighbouring states, and even on the conduct of our 
best national allies, which may be attended with the 
most pernicious consequences. These things I men- 
tion as a caution to young printers, and that they may 
be encouraged not to pollute their presses, and disgrace 
their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse 
steadily ; as they may see by my example, that such a 
course of conduct will not on the whole be injurious 
to their interests.* 

In 1733, I sent one of my journeymen to Charleston, 
South Carolina, where a printer was wanting. I fur- 
nished him with a press and letters, on an agreement 
of partnership, by which I was to receive one third of 
the profits of the business, paying one third of the 
expense. He was a man of learning, but ignorant in 
matters of account ; and, though he sometimes made 
me remittances, I could get no account from him, nor 
any satisfactory state of our partnership while he lived. 
On his decease, the business was continued by his 
widow, who, being born and bred in Holland, where, 
as I have been informed, the knowledge of accounts 
makes a part of female education, she not only sent 
me as clear a statement as she could find of the 
transactions past, but continued to account with the 
greatest regularity and exactness every quarter after- 

* In 1737 he published a piece in his paper on the Freedom of Speech 
and of the Press. See Vol. II. p. 285. Again, late in life, he wrote a 
pointed satirical piece on this subject. Ibid. p. 508. — Editor. 

Mr. 28.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 125 

wards ; and managed the business with such success, 
that she not only' reputably brought up a family of 
children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able to 
purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her 
son in it. 

I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recom- 
mending that branch of education for our young women, 
as likely to be of more use to them and their chil- 
dren, in case of widowhood, than either music or 
dancing ; by preserving them from losses by imposition 
of crafty men, and enabling them to continue, perhaps, 
a profitable mercantile house, with established corre- 
spondence, till a son is grown up fit to undertake and 
go on with it; to the lasting advantage and enriching 
of the family 

About the year 1734, there arrived among us a 
young Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who 
delivered with a good voice, and apparently extempore, 
most excellent discourses; which drew together con- 
siderable numbers of different persuasions, who joined 
in admiring them. Among the rest, I became one of 
his constant hearers, his sermons pleasing me, as they 
had little of the dogmatical kind, but inculcated strongly 
the practice of virtue, or what in the religious style 
are called good works. Those, however, of our con- 
gregation, who considered themselves as orthodox Pres- 
byterians, disapproved his doctrine, and were joined by 
most of the old ministers, who arraigned him of het- 
erodoxy before the synod, in order to have him silenced. 
I became his zealous partisan, and contributed all I 
could to raise a party in his favor, and combated for 
him awhile with some hopes of success. There was 
much scribbling pro and con upon the occasion ; and 
finding, that, though an elegant preacher, he was but 
a poor writer, I wrote for him two or three pamphlets, 

126 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1734. 

and a piece in the Gazette of April, 1735. Those 
pamphlets, as is generally the case with controversial 
writings, though eagerly read at the time, were soon 
out of vogue, and I question whether a single copy 
of them now exists.* 

During the contest an unlucky occurrence hurt his 
cause exceedingly. One of our adversaries having 
heard him preach a sermon, that was much admired, 
thought he had somewhere read the sermon before, or 
at least a part of it. On searching, he found that part 
quoted at length, in one of the British Reviews, from 
a discourse of Dr. Foster's. This detection gave many 
of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his 
cause, and occasioned our more speedy discomfiture in 
the synod. I stuck by him, however; I rather ap- 
proved his giving us good sermons composed by oth- 
ers, than bad ones of his own manufacture ; though 
the latter was the practice of our common teachers. 
He afterwards acknowledged to me, that none of those 
he preached were his own; adding, that his memory 
was such as enabled him to retain and repeat any 
sermon after once reading only. On our defeat, he 
left us in search elsewhere of better fortune, and 
I quitted the congregation, never attending it after; 
though I continued many years my subscription for the 
support of its ministers. 

I had begun in 1733 to study languages; I soon 
made myself so much a master of the French, as to be 
able to read the books in that language with ease. I 
then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance, who was 

* None of these pamphlets has been found. Several anonymous tracts 
on this subject are advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette, in the months 
of July, September, and October, 1735, some of which are probably the 
same that are here mentioned, as having been written by Franklin. — 

;Et.28.] life OF FRANKLIN. 127 

also learning it, used often to tempt me to play chess 
with him. Finding this took up too much of the 
time I had to spare for study, I at length refused to 
play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor 
in every game should have a right to impose a task, 
either of parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or 
in translations, which tasks the vanquished was to per- 
form upon honor before our next meeting. As we 
played pretty equally, we thus beat one another into 
that language. I afterwards, with a little pains-taking, 
acquired as much of the Spanish as to read their books 

I have already mentioned, that I had only one year's 
instruction in a Latin school, and that when very 
young, after which I neglected that language entirely. 
But, when I had attained an acquaintance with the 
French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surprised to find, 
on looking over a Latin Testament, that I understood 
more of that language than I had imagined ; which 
encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of 
it, and I met with more success, as those preceding 
languages had greatly smoothed my way. 

From these circumstances I have thought there is 
some inconsistency in our common mode of teaching 
languages. We are told, that it is proper to begin first 
with the Latin, and, having acquired that, it will be 
more easy to attain those modern languages, which 
are derived from it; and yet we do not begin with 
the Greek, in order more easily to acquire the Latin. 
It is true, that, if we can clamber and get to the top 
of a staircase without using the steps, we shall more 
easily gain them in descending ; but certainly, if we 
begin with the lowest, we shall with more ease as- 
cend to the top ; and I would therefore offer it to 
the consideration of those, who superintend the edu- 

128 LIFE OF FRAx^KLIN. [1736. 

cation of our youth, whether, since many of those, 
who begin with the Latin, quit the same after spend- 
ing some years without having made any great pro- 
ficiency, and what they have learned becomes almost 
useless, so that their time has been lost, it would not 
have been better to have begun with the French, pro- 
ceeding to the Italian and Latin. For though after 
spending the same time they should quit the study 
of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would 
however have acquired another tongue or two, that, 
being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in 
common life. 

After ten years' absence from Boston, and having 
become easy in my circumstances, I made a journey 
thither to visit my relations ; which I could not sooner 
afford. In returning I called at Newport to see my 
brother James, then settled there with his printing- 
house. Our former differences were forgotten, and our 
meeting was very cordial and affectionate. He was 
fast declining in health, and requested me, that, in case 
of his death, which he apprehended not far distant, I 
would take home his son, then but ten years of age, 
and bring him up to the printing business. This I ac- 
cordingly performed, sending him a few years to school 
before I took him into the office. His mother carried 
on the business till he was grown up, when I assisted 
him with an assortment of new types, those of his 
father being in a manner worn out. Thus it was that 
I made my brother ample amends for the service I 
had deprived him of by leaving him so early. 

In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four 
years old, by the smallpox, taken in the common way. 
I long regretted him bitterly, and still regret that I had 
not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention 
for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on 

^Et. 30.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 129 

the supposition, that they should never forgive them- 
selves if a child died under it; my example showing, 
that the regret may be the same either way, and 
therefore that the safer should be chosen. 

Our club, the Junto, was found so useful, and af- 
forded such satisfaction to the members, that some 
were desirous of introducing their friends, which could 
not well be done without exceeding what we had set- 
tled as a convenient number; viz. twelve. We had 
from the beginning made it a rule to keep our insti- 
tution a secret, which was pretty well observed ; the 
intention was, to avoid applications of improper persons 
for admittance, some of whom, perhaps, we might find 
it difficult to refuse. I was one of those, who were 
against any addition to our number, but instead of it 
made in writing a proposal, that every member sepa- 
rately should endeavour to form a subordinate club, 
with the same rules respecting queries, &c, and with- 
out informing them of the connexion with the Junto. 
The advantages proposed were, the improvement of so 
many more young citizens by the use of our institu- 
tions; our better acquaintance with the general senti- 
ments of the inhabitants on any occasion, as the Junto 
member might propose what queries we should desire, 
and was to report to the Junto what passed at his 
separate club ; the promotion of our particular interests 
in business by more extensive recommendation, and 
the increase of our influence in public affairs, and our 
power of doing good by spreading through the sev- 
eral clubs the sentiments of the Junto. 

The project was approved, and every member un- 
dertook to form his club ; but they did not all sue 
ceed. Five or six only were completed, which were 
called by different names, as the Vine, the Union, the 
Band. They were useful to themselves, and afforded 

vol. i. 17 

130 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1736. 

us a good deal of amusement, information, and in- 
struction ; besides answering, in some considerable de- 
gree, our views of influencing the public on particu- 
lar occasions ; of which I shall give some instances in 
course of time as they happened. 

My first promotion was my being chosen, in 1736, 
clerk of the General Assembly. The choice was made 
that year without opposition ; but the year following, 
when I was again proposed, (the choice like that of 
the members being annual,) a new member made a 
long speech against me, in order to favor some other 
candidate. I was however chosen, which was the more 
agreeable to me, as, besides the pay for the immediate 
service of clerk, the place gave me a better opportu- 
nity of keeping up an interest among the members, 
which secured to me the business of printing the votes, 
laws, paper money, and other occasional jobs for the 
public, that, on the whole, were very profitable. 

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new 
member, who was a gentleman of fortune and educa- 
tion, with talents that were likely to give him in time 
great influence in the House, which indeed afterwards 
happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his fa- 
vor by paying any servile respect to him, but, after 
some time, took this other method. Having heard that 
he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious 
book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of 
perusing that book, and requesting that he would do 
me the favor of lending it to me for a few days. He 
sent it immediately ; and I returned it in about a week 
with another note, expressing strongly the sense of 
the favor. When we next met in the House, he spoke 
to me, which he had never done before, and with 
great civility ; and he ever after manifested a readiness 
to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great 

Mr. 31] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 131 

friends, and our friendship continued to his death. 
This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim 
I had learned, which says, "He, that has once done 
you a kindness, will be more ready to do you another, 
than he whom you yourself have obliged" And it 
shows how much more profitable it is prudently to 
remove, than to resent, return, and continue, inimical 

In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Vir- 
ginia, and then postmaster-general, being dissatisfied 
with the conduct of his deputy at Philadelphia, respect- 
ing some negligence in rendering, and want of exact- 
ness in framing, his accounts, took from him the com- 
mission and offered it to me. I accepted it readily, 
and found it of great advantage ; for, though the sala- 
ry was small, it facilitated the correspondence that im- 
proved my newspaper, increased the number demand- 
ed, as well as the advertisements to be inserted, so 
that it came to afford me a considerable income. My 
old competitor's newspaper declined proportionably, and 
I was satisfied without retaliating his refusal, while 
postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the 
riders. Thus he suffered greatly from his neglect in 
due accounting ; and I mention it as a lesson to those 
young men, who may be employed in managing affairs 
for others, that they should always render accounts, 
and make remittances, with great clearness and punc- 
tuality. The character of observing such a conduct is 
the most powerful of all recommendations to new em- 
ployments and increase of business.* 

* Before this appointment, he had been favored in regard to the circu- 
lation of his newspaper. On the 28th of January, 1735, he says ; " By 
the indulgence of the Honorable Colonel Spotswood, Postmaster- 
General, the printer hereof is allowed to send the Gazettes by the post, 
postage free, to all parts of the post-road, from Virginia to New England." 

The following advertisement indicates nearly the time at which he 

132 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1737. 

I began now to turn my thoughts to public affairs, 
beginning however with small matters. The city watch 
was one of the first things that I conceived to want 
regulation. It was managed by the constables of the 
respective wards in turn ; the constable summoned a 
number of housekeepers to attend him for the night. 
Those, who chose never to attend, paid him six shil- 
lings a year to be excused, which was supposed to go 
to hiring substitutes, but was in reality much more 
than was necessary for that purpose, and made the 
constableship a place of profit; and the constable, for 
a little drink, often got such ragamuffins about him as 
a watch, that respectable housekeepers did not choose 
to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often 
neglected, and most of the nights spent in tippling. I 
thereupon wrote a paper to be read in the Junto, 

assumed the duties of postmaster, and also the degree of speed with 
which the mail was then conveyed. 

October 27th, 1737. — " Notice is hereby given, that the postoffice of 
Philadelphia is now kept at B. Franklin's, in Market Street ; and that 
Henry Pratt is appointed Riding Postmaster for all the stages between 
Philadelphia and Newport in Virginia, who sets out about the beginning 
of each month, and returns in twenty-four days ; by whom gentlemen, 
merchants, and others, may have their letters carefully conveyed, and 
business faithfully transacted, he having given good security for the 
same to the Honorable Colonel Spotswood, Postmaster- General of all 
his Majesty's Dominions in America." 

Six years afterwards some improvement had taken place in the trans- 
mission of the mail. In an advertisement, dated April 14th, 1743, he 
says; "After this week, the northern post will set out for New York on 
Thursdays at three o'clock in the afternoon till Christmas. The southern 
post sets out next Monday at eight o'clock for Annapolis, and continues 
going every fortnight during the summer season." In winter the post 
between Philadelphia and New York went once a fortnight. 

The following characteristic advertisement is contained in the Penn- 
sylvania Gazette for June 23d, 1737. — "Taken out of a pew in the 
Church, some months since, a Common Prayer Book, bound in red, gilt, 
and lettered D. F. [Deborah Franklin] on each cover. The person who 
took it is desired to open it and read the eighth Commandment, and 
afterwards return it into the same pew again ; upon which no further 
notice will be taken." — Editor. 

jEt.31.] life of franklin. 133 

representing these irregularities, but insisting more par- 
ticularly on the inequality of the six shilling tax of the 
constable, respecting the circumstances of those who 
paid it ; since a poor widow housekeeper, all whose 
property to be guarded by the watch did not perhaps 
exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as the 
wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' 
worth of goods in his stores. 

On the whole I proposed as a more effectual watch, 
the hiring of proper men to serve constantly in the 
business; and as a more equitable way of supporting 
the charge, the levying a tax that should be propor- 
tioned to the property. This idea, being approved by 
the Junto, was communicated to the other clubs," but 
as originating in each of them ; and though the plan 
was not immediately carried into execution, yet, by 
preparing the minds of people for the change, it paved 
the way for the law obtained a few years after, when 
the members of our clubs were grown into more in- 

About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read 
in the Junto, but it was afterwards published.) on the 
different accidents and carelessnesses by which houses 
were set on fire, with cautions against them, and 
means proposed of avoiding them. This was spoken 
of as a useful piece, and gave rise to a project, which 
soon followed it, of forming a company for the more 
ready extinguishing of fires, and mutual assistance in 
removing and securing of goods when in danger. As- 
sociates in this scheme were presently found, amount- 
ing to thirty. Our articles of agreement obliged every 
member to keep always in good order, and fit for use, 
a certain number of leathern buckets, with strong bags 
and baskets (for packing and transporting of goods), 
which were to be brought to every fire; and we 

VOL. I. L 

134 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1738. 

agreed about once a month to spend a social evening 
together, in discoursing and communicating such ideas 
as occurred to us upon the subject of fires, as might 
be useful in our conduct on such occasions.* 

The utility of this institution soon appeared, and 
many more desiring to be admitted than we thought 
convenient for one company, they were advised to form 
another, which was accordingly done; and thus went 
on one new company after another, till they became 
so numerous as to include most of the inhabitants who 
were men of property ; and now, at the time of my 
writing this, though upwards of fifty years since its 
establishment, that which I first formed, called the 
Union Fire Company, still subsists ; though the first 
members are all deceased but one, who is older by a 
year than I am. The fines that have been paid by 

* In the Pennsylvania Gazette for February 4th, 1734-5, is a paper on 
this subject, which was probably written by Franklin. It begins as 

" Being old and lame of my hands, and thereby incapable of assisting 
my fellow citizens when their houses are on fire, I must beg them to 
take in good part the following hints on the subject of fires. 

"In the first place, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of 
cure, I would advise them to take care how they suffer living brand-ends, 
or coals in a full shovel, to be carried out of one room into another, or 
up or down stairs, unless in a warming-pan, shut; for scraps of fire 
may fall into chinks, and make no appearance till midnight, when, your 
stairs being in flames, you may be forced, as I once was, to leap out of 
your windows, and hazard your necks to avoid being over-roasted. And 
now we talk of prevention, where would be the damage, if, to the act 
for regulating bakehouses and coopers' shops, a clause were added to 
regulate all other causes in the particulars of too shallow hearths, and 
the detestable practice of putting wooden mouldings on each side of the 
fireplace, which, being commonly of heart of pine and full of turpentine, 
stand ready to flame as soon as a coal or a small brand shall roll against 

He then proceeds to speak of the caution necessary in the building 
and sweeping of chimneys, and dwells at considerable length on the 
best modes of extinguishing fires, and the advantages of a proper or- 
ganization of fire companies. — Editor. 

jEt.32.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 135 

members for absence at the monthly meetings have 
been applied to the purchase of fire-engines, ladders, 
fire-hooks, and other useful implements for each com- 
pany; so that I question whether there is a city in 
the world better provided with the means of putting 
a stop to beginning conflagrations ; and, in fact, since 
these institutions, the city has never lost by fire more 
than one or two houses at a time, and the flames have 
often been extinguished before the house in which 
they began has been half consumed. 

136 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1739. 


Forms an Intimacy with Whitefield. — Building erected for Preachers 
of all Denominations. — Character of Whitefield, his Oratory and Writ- 
ings. — Partnerships in the Printing Business. — Proposes a Philosoph- 
ical Society. — Takes an active Part in providing Means of Defence 
in the Spanish War. — Forms an Association for that Purpose. — Sen- 
timents of the Quakers. — James Logan. — Anecdote of William 
Penn. — The Sect called Dunkers. — Religious Creeds. — New-in- 
vented Fireplace. 

In 1739, arrived among us from Ireland the Rev- 
erend Mr. Whitefield, who had made himself remark- 
able there as an itinerant preacher. He was at first 
permitted to preach in some of our churches ; but the 
clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refused him their 
pulpits, and he was obliged to preach in the fields. 
The multitudes of all sects and denominations that 
attended his sermons were enormous, and it was a 
matter of speculation to me, who was one of the num- 
ber, to observe the extraordinary influence of his ora- 
tory on his hearers, and how much they admired and 
respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of 
them, by assuring them, they were naturally half beasts 
and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change 
soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From 
being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed 
*as if all the world were growing religious, so that one 
could not walk through the town in an evening with- 
out hearing psalms sung in different families of every 

And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the 
open air, subject to its inclemencies, the building of a 
house to meet in was no sooner proposed, and per- 
sons appointed to receive contributions, than sufficient 

Mr. 33.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 137 

sums were soon received to procure the ground, and 
erect the building, which was one hundred feet long 
and seventy broad ; and the w T ork was carried on with 
such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time 
than could have been expected. Both house and 
ground were vested in trustees, expressly for the use 
of any preacher of any religious persuasion, who might 
desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia ; 
the design in building being not to accommodate any 
particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that 
even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a 
missionary to preach Mahometanism to us, he would 
find a pulpit at his service. 

Mr. Whitefield, on leaving us, went preaching all 
the way through the colonies to Georgia. The set- 
tlement of that province had been lately begun, but, 
instead of being made with hardy, industrious husband- 
men, accustomed to labor, the only people fit for such 
an enterprise, it was with families of broken shop- 
keepers and other insolvent debtors ; many of indolent 
and idle habits, taken out of the jails, who, being set 
down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and 
unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement, 
perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children 
unprovided for. The sight of their miserable situation 
inspired the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield, with 
the idea of building an Orphan House there, in which 
they might be supported and educated. Returning 
northward, he preached up this charity, and made 
large collections; for his eloquence had a wonderful 
power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of 
which I myself was an instance. 

I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia 
was then destitute of materials and workmen, and it 
was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at a 

VOL. I. 18 L* 

138 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1739-41. 

great expense, I thought it would have been better 
to have built the house at Philadelphia, and brought 
the children to it. This I advised ; but he was reso- 
lute in his first project, rejected my counsel, and I 
therefore refused to contribute. I happened soon after 
to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which 
I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, 
and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. 
I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three 
or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he 
proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give 
the copper. Another stroke of his oratory made me 
ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; 
and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket 
wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this 
sermon there was also one of our club, who, being 
of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, 
and suspecting a collection might be intended, had 
by precaution emptied his pockets before he came 
from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, 
however, he felt a strong inclination to give, and ap- 
plied to a neighbour, who stood near him, to lend him 
some money for the purpose. The request was for- 
tunately made to perhaps the only man in the company, 
who had the firmness not to be affected by the 
preacher. His answer was, " At any other time, friend 
Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely ; but not now ; 
for thee seems to be out of thy right senses." 

Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to sup- 
pose that he would apply these collections to his own 
private emolument; but I, who was intimately ac- 
quainted with him, being employed in printing his 
Sermons and Journals, never had the least suspicion 
of his integrity ; but am to this day decidedly of opin- 
ion, that he was in all his conduct a perfectly honest 

Mt. 33-35.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 139 

man; and methinks my testimony in his favor ought 
to have the more weight, as we had no religious con- 
nexion. He used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my 
conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing 
that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil 
friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his 

The following instance will show the terms on which 
we stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at 
Boston, he wrote to me, that he should come soon to 
Philadelphia, but knew not where he could lodge when 
there, as he understood his old friend and host, Mr. 
Benezet, was removed to Germantown. My answer 
was, "You know my house; if you can make shift 
with its scanty accommodations, you will be most 
heartily welcome." He replied, that if I made that 
kind offer for Christ's sake, I should not miss of a 
reward. And I returned, " Don't let me be mistaken ; 
it was not for Christ's sake, but for your sake." One 
of our common acquaintance jocosely remarked, that, 
knowing it to be the custom of the saints, when they 
received any favor, to shift the burden of the obligation 
from off their own shoulders, and place it in heaven, 
I had contrived to fix it on earth. 

The last time I saw Mr. Whitefield, was in London, 
when he consulted me about his Orphan-House con- 
cern, and his purpose of appropriating it to the estab- 
lishment of a college. 

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his 
words so perfectly, that he might be heard and un- 
derstood at a great distance ; especially as his auditors 
observed the most perfect silence. He preached one 
evening from the top of the Court-House steps, which 
are in the middle of Market Street, and on the west 
side of Second Street, which crosses it at right angles. 

140 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1739-41. 

Both streets were filled with his hearers to a consider- 
able distance. Being among the hindmost in Market 
Street, I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be 
heard, by retiring backwards down the street towards 
the river ; and I found his voice distinct till I came near 
Front Street, when some noise in that street obscured 
It. Imagining then a semicircle, of which my distance 
should be the radius, and that it was filled with au- 
ditors, to each of whom I allowed two square feet, I 
computed that he might well be heard by more than 
thirty thousand. This reconciled me to the newspaper 
accounts of his having preached to twenty-five thou- 
sand people in the fields, and to the history of gen- 
erals haranguing whole armies, of which I had some- 
times doubted.* 

By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily 
between sermons newly composed, and those which 
he had often preached in the course of his travels. 
His delivery of the latter was so improved by frequent 
repetition, that every accent, every emphasis, every 
modulation of voice, was so perfectly well turned and 
well placed, that, without being interested in the sub- 
ject, one could not help being pleased with the dis- 
course ; a pleasure of much the same kind with that 
received from an excellent piece of music. This is an 

* In the early part of his life, Mr. Whitefield was preaching in an 
open field, when a drummer happened to be present, who was determined 
to interrupt his pious business, and rudely beat his drum in a violent 
manner, in order to drown the preacher's voice. Mr. Whitefield spoke 
very loud, but was not as powerful as the instrument. He therefore 
called out to the drummer in these words, "Friend, you and I serve 
the two greatest masters existing, but in different callings ; you beat 
up for volunteers for King George, I for the Lord Jesus. In God's 
name, then, let us not interrupt each other; the world is wide enough 
for both; and we may get recruits in abundance." This speech had 
such an effect on the drummer, that he went away in great good-humor, 
and left the preacher in full possession of the field. 

Mt. 33-35.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 141 

advantage itinerant preachers have over those who are 
stationary, as the latter cannot well improve their de- 
livery of a sermon by so many rehearsals. 

His writing and printing from time to time gave great 
advantage to his enemies ; unguarded expressions, and 
even erroneous opinions, delivered in preaching, might 
have been afterwards explained or qualified by sup- 
posing others that might have accompanied them ; or 
they might have been denied; but litem scripta manet. 
Critics attacked his writings violently, and with so 
much appearance of reason as to diminish the number 
of his votaries and prevent their increase. So that I 
am satisfied, that, if he had never written any thing, 
he would have left behind him a much more numerous 
and important sect; and his reputation might in that 
case have been still growing even after his death ; as, 
there being nothing of his writing on which to found 
a censure, and give him a lower character, his prose- 
lytes would be left at liberty to attribute to him as 
great a variety of excellences as their enthusiastic ad- 
miration might wish him to have possessed.* 

* The following notices, selected from Franklin's newspaper, the Penn- 
sylvania Gazette, show that he was the first publisher of Whitefield's 
writings; and they also contain some curious facts respecting the suc- 
cess of that eloquent preacher, immediately after his arrival in America. 

November 15th, 1739. — " The Reverend Mr. Whitefield, havirg given 
me copies of his Journals and Sermons, with leave to print the same, I 
propose to publish them with all expedition, if I find sufficient encour- 
agement. The Sermons will make two volumes ; and the Journals two 
more ; which will be delivered to subscribers at two shillings for each 
volume bound. Those, therefore, who are inclined to encourage this 
work, are desired speedily to send in their names to me, that I may 
take measures accordingly." 

November 29tfi. — "On Friday last, Mr. Whitefield arrived here with 
his friends from New York, where he preached eight times. He has 
preached twice every day to great crowds, except Tuesday, when he 
preached at Germantown, from a balcony, to about five thousand peo- 
ple in the street. And last night the crowd was so great to hear his 
farewell sermon, that the church could not contain one half, whereupon 

142 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1739-41. 

My business was now constantly augmenting, and 
my circumstances growing daily easier, my newspaper 
having become very profitable, as being for a time 
almost the only one in this and the neighbouring 
provinces. I experienced too, the truth of the obser- 
vation, " that after getting the first hundred pounds, it 
is more easy to get the second ; " money itself being of 
a prolific nature. 

The partnership at Carolina having succeeded, I was 
encouraged to engage in others, and to promote sev- 
eral of my workmen, who had behaved well, by estab- 
lishing them in printing-houses in different colonies, on 

they withdrew to Society Hill, where he preached from a balcony to a 
multitude, computed at not less than ten thousand people. He left this 
city to-day." 

December 5th. — " On Thursday last, the Reverend Mr. Whitefield left 
this city, and was accompanied to Chester by about one hundred and 
fifty horse, and preached there to about seven thousand people. On 
Friday he preached twice at Willing's Town to about five thousand ; on 
Saturday at Newcastle to about two thousand five hundred ; and the 
same evening at Christiana Bridge to about three thousand ; on Sunday 
at White Clay Creek he preached twice, resting about half an hour 
between the sermons, to about eight thousand, of whom three thou- 
sand it is computed came on horseback. It rained most of the time, and 
yet they stood in the open air." 

May 15th, 1740. — "This evening the Reverend Mr. Whitefield went 
on board his sloop at Newcastle to sail for Georgia. On Sunday he 
preached twice at Philadelphia. The last was his farewell sermon, at 
which was a vast audience. On Monday he preached at Derby and 
Chester; on Tuesday at Wilmington and White Clay Creek ; on Wednes- 
day at Nottingham ; on Thursday at Fog's Manor. The congregations 
were, at every place, much more numerous than when he was here 
last. We hear that he has collected in these parts, in goods and 
money, between four and five hundred pounds sterling for his Orphan 
House in Georgia." 

May22d, 1740.-— "Monday next will be delivered to the subscribers 
two volumes of the Reverend Mr. Whitefield's works ; viz. one of Ser- 
mons and one of Journals. The other volumes being nearly finished, will 
be ready in a short time. The whole number of names subscribed far 
exceeds the number of books printed. Those subscribers, who have paid, 
or who bring the money in their hands, will have the preference." — 


the same terms with that in Carolina.* Most of them 
did well, being enabled at the end of our term, six 
years, to purchase the types of me and go on working 
for themselves, by which means several families were 
raised. Partnerships often finish in quarrels ; but I was 
happy in this, that mine were all carried on and ended 
amicably; owing, I think, a good deal to the precaution 
of having very explicitly settled, in our articles, every 
thing to be done by or expected from each partner, so 
that there was nothing to dispute; which precaution I 
would therefore recommend to all who enter into part- 
nerships ; for, whatever esteem partners may have for, 
and confidence in, each other at the time of the contract,, 
little jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas' of 
inequality in the care and burden, business, &c, which 
are attended often with breach of friendship and of the 
connexion; perhaps with lawsuits and other disagree- 
able consequences. 

I had on the whole abundant reason to be satisfied 
with my being established in Pennsylvania. There 
were, however, some things that I regretted, there be- 
ing no provision for defence, nor for a complete educa- 
tion of youth ; no militia, nor any college. I therefore, in 
1 743, drew up a proposal for establishing an academy ; t 
and at that time, thinking the Reverend Richard Peters, 

* By the general terms of these partnerships, Franklin supplied a 
printing-press and a certain quantity of types at his own charge ; and 
all other materials for carrying on the business were provided by the 
partner. The amount of necessary expenses for rent, paper, ink, and 
the like, was deducted from the gross receipts, and the remainder, in- 
cluding the debts, was divided into three parts, of which two belonged 
to the partner and one to Franklin. All accounts were settled quarterly. 
At the expiration of the time agreed upon, which was commonly six 
years, the partner was at liberty to return the press and types, or to 
purchase them at a fair valuation. A partnership of this description 
existed for many years between Franklin and James Parker, a respectable 
printer in New York. — Editor. 

f See Appendix, No. III. 

144 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1744. 

who was out of employ, a fit person to superintend 
such an institution, I communicated the project to him ; 
but he, having more profitable views in the service of 
the Proprietors, which succeeded, declined the under- 
taking ; and, not knowing another at that time suitable 
for such a trust, I let the scheme lie awhile dormant. 
I succeeded better the next year, 1744, in proposing 
and establishing a Philosophical Society. The paper 
I wrote for that purpose will be found among my 
writings ; if not lost with many others.* 

With respect to defence, Spain having been several 
years at war against Great Britain, and being at length 
joined by France, which brought us into great danger ; 
and the labored and long-continued endeavour of our 
governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly 
to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the 
security of the province, having proved abortive ; I pro- 
posed to try what might be done by a voluntary sub- 

* See Vol. VI. p. 14; also Appendix to this volume, No. IV. 

The author has omitted to mention an enterprise, which he under- 
took in the year 1741, being the publication of a periodical work, called 
the General Magazine. The first notice of it is contained in his Gazette 
for November 13th, 1740. 

"This Magazine," he says, "in imitation of those in England, was 
long since projected. A correspondence is settled with intelligent men 
in most parts of the colonies, and small types are procured for carry- 
ing it on in the best manner. It would not, indeed, have been publish- 
ed quite so soon, were it not that a person, to whom the scheme was 
communicated in confidence, has thought fit to advertise it in the last 
Mercury, without our participation, and probably with a view, by starting 
before us, to discourage us from prosecuting our first design, and reap 
the advantage of it wholly to himself. We shall endeavour, however, by 
executing our plan with care, diligence, and impartiality, and by printing 
the work neatly and correctly, to deserve a share of the public favor. 

" But we desire no subscriptions. We shall publish the books at our 
own expense, and risk the sale of them; which method, we suppose, 
will be most agreeable to our readers, as they will then be at liberty to 
buy only what they like, and we shall be under the constant necessity 
of endeavouring to make every particular pamphlet worth their money. 
Each Magazine shall contain four sheets, of common-sized paper, in a 

^t. 40.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 145 

scription of the people. To promote this, I first wrote 
and published a pamphlet, entitled, Plain Truth,* 
in which I stated our helpless situation in strong lights, 
with the necessity of union and discipline for our de- 
fence, and promised to propose in a few days an as- 
sociation, to be generally signed for that purpose. The 
pamphlet had a sudden and surprising effect. I was 
called upon for the instrument of association. Having 
settled the draft of it with a few friends, I appointed 
a meeting of the citizens in the large building before 
mentioned. The house was pretty full; I had pre- 
pared a number of printed copies, and provided pens 
and ink dispersed all over the room. I harangued 
them a little on the subject, read the paper, explained 
it, and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly 
signed, not the least objection being made. 

When the company separated, and. the papers were 
collected, we found above twelve hundred signatures; 

small character. Price sixpence sterling, or ninepence Pennsylvania 
money ; with considerable allowance to chapmen, who take quantities. 
To be printed and sold by B. Franklin, in Philadelphia." 

The work was accordingly begun, and entitled " The General Maga- 
zine and Historical Chronicle, for all the British Plantations in America ; 
January, 1741. Philadelphia ; printed and sold by B. Franklin." It is in 
a duodecimo form, handsomely printed on a small type. The titlepage 
is ornamented with the Prince of Wales's coronet and three plumes, 
with the motto, Ich Dien. One number was published monthly till June, 
making six in the whole. It was then discontinued. The contents are 
miscellaneous, but mostly historical, political, and theological. Very 
few of the articles were original. A large part of each number was 
occupied with the proceedings of Parliament relating to the colonies, 
Governors' speeches, the Assemblies' replies, and extracts from books. 
There was a department for poetry, chiefly selected, but interspersed 
with original pieces both in English and Latin. Much space was allowed 
for theological controversy, in which articles were admitted on both 
sides. Two of the numbers contain a manual of military exercise. In 
short, although the work imparted much useful information, it seems 
not to have been well adapted to win popular favor. — Editor. 

* See Vol. III. p. 1. 

VOL. I. 19 M 

146 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1747. 

and, other copies being dispersed in the country, the 
subscribers amounted at length to upwards of ten 
thousand. These all furnished themselves as soon as 
they could with arms, formed themselves into compa- 
nies and regiments, chose their own officers, and met 
.every week to be instructed in the manual exercise, 
and other parts of military discipline. The women, 
by subscriptions among themselves, provided silk colors, 
which they presented to the companies, painted with* 
different devices and mottos, which I supplied.* 

The officers of the companies composing the Phila- 
delphia regiment, being met, chose me for their colonel ; 
but, conceiving myself unfit, I declined that station, 
and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person, and a 
man of influence, who was accordingly appointed. I 
then proposed a lottery to defray the expense of build- 
ing a battery below the town, and furnished with can- 
non. It filled expeditiously, and the battery was soon 

# The following are the devices and mottos, as published at the time. 

" 1. A lion erect, a naked scimitar in one paw, the other holding the 
Pennsylvania scutcheon. Motto; Patria. 

"£. Three arms, wearing different linen ruffled, plain, and checked, 
the hands joined by grasping each other's wrist, denoting the 1 union of 
all ranks. Motto; Unita Virtus Valet. 

"3. An eagle, the emblem of victory, descending from the skies. 
Motto ; A Deo Victoria. 

" 4. The figure of liberty sitting on a cube, holding a spear with the 
cap of Freedom on its point. Motto ; Inestimabilis. 

" 5. An armed man with a naked falchion in his hand. Motto ; Deus 
adjuvat Fortes. 

" 6. An elephant, being the emblem of a warrior always on his guard, 
as that creature is said never to lie down, and hath his arms ever in 
readiness. Motto ; Semper Faratus. 

" 7. A city walled round. Motto ; Salus Patrice Summa Lex. 

" 8. A soldier with his piece recovered, ready to present. Motto ; Sic 
pacem qucerimus. 

" 9. A coronet and plume of feathers. Motto ; In God we trust. 

" 10. A man with a sword drawn. Motto ; Pro Aris et Focis. 

"11. Three of the associators, marching with their muskets shouldered, 

Mt. 41.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 147 

erected, the merlons being framed of logs, and filled 
with earth.* We bought some old cannon from Bos- 
ton ; but, these not being sufficient, we wrote to Lon- 
don for more; soliciting at the same time our Propri- 
etaries for some assistance ; though without much ex- 
pectation of obtaining it. 

Meanwhile Colonel Lawrence, Mr. Allen, Abraham 
Taylor, and myself were sent to New York by the 
associators, commissioned to borrow some cannon of 
Governor Clinton. He at first refused us peremptori- 
ly ; but at a dinner with his council, where there was 
great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that 
place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he 
would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he 
advanced to ten; and at length he very good na- 

and dressed in different clothes, intimating the unanimity of the different 
sorts of people in the Association. Motto ; Vis tlnita Fortior. 

" 12. A musket and sword crossing each other. Motto ; Pro Rege et 

" 13. Representation of a glory, in the middle of which is wrote, Je- 
hovah-Nissi ; in English, The Lord our Banner. 

" 14. A castle, at the gate of which a soldier stands sentinel. Motto ; 
Cavendo Tutus. 

"15. David, as he advanced against Goliath, and slung the stone. 
Motto ; In Nomine Domini. 

" 16. A lion rampant, one paw holding up a scimitar, another a sheaf 
of wheat. Motto ; Domine, Protege Alimentum. 

"17. A sleeping lion. Motto; Rouse me, if you dare. 

" 18. Hope, represented by a woman standing clothed in blue, holding 
one hand on an anchor. Motto ; Spero per Deum Vincere. 

" 19. Duke of Cumberland, as a general. Motto ; Pro Deo et Georgia 

" 20. A soldier on horseback. Motto ; Pro Libertate Patria. 

" Most of the above colors, together with the officers' half-pikes and 
spontoons, and even the halberds and drums, have been given by the 
good ladies of this city, who raised money by subscription among them- 
selves for that purpose.'' — Pennsylvania Gazette, January 12th, and April 
Uth, 1748. — Editor. 

* For a more particular account of these proceedings, see Vol. III. 
p. 1 - 3 ; also Vol. VII. pp. 28-32. 

It appears, that the Proprietaries were not pleased with the scheme 

148 LIFE OF FRANKLIN [1748. 

turedly conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, 
eighteen-pounders, with their carriages, which were 
soon transported and mounted on our batteries ; where 
the associators kept a nightly guard, while the war 
lasted ; and among the rest I regularly took my turn 
of duty there, as a common soldier. 

My activity in these operations was agreeable to the 
Governor and Council; they took me into confidence, 
and I was consulted by them in every measure where 
their concurrence was thought useful to the Association. 
Calling in the aid of religion, I proposed to them the 
proclaiming a fast, to promote reformation, and implore 
the blessing of Heaven on our undertaking. They 
embraced the motion ; but, as it was the first fast ever 
thought of in the province, the secretary had no prece- 

of associating for the defence of the province. They deemed it an il- 
legal act, and an exercise of too much power, to unite in this manner 
without the previous sanction of the government; and they feared it 
would prove a dangerous precedent, by encouraging the people to form 
combinations for making new claims to civil privileges, and new en- 
croachments on the prerogatives of the Proprietaries. In answer to 
their letters on this subject, Mr. Secretary Peters wrote as follows. Af- 
ter mentioning the cannon obtained from New York, he proceeds to say ; 

" And now the people are hastening to erect a battery, and, when it is 
done, their fears will subside for the city, though the trade will be ab- 
solutely destroyed. There are now eighty associated companies, who 
behave very orderly ; signals and words of command are settled all over 
the country, and the alarms are, as far as I can judge, well contrived. 
I shall send you the general disposition, with lists of the officers and 
number of men in each company, by the London ship. I begin to see 
this affair in a different light from what I did at first, and think it may 
be exceedingly for the Proprietaries' interest, for the ease of government, 
and the preservation of the place, under Divine Providence ; and that you 
may, by instructions to the new Governor, obviate every inconvenience. 

"The Quaker principle of non-resistance would, I fear, endanger the 
Constitution of the province, if the war continues and any invasion 
happens to this province, the centre of America and its granary ; but so 
general an association and batteries on the river may the better recon- 
cile the province to his Majesty and his ministers, and save them the 
trouble, and the Quakers the shame, of an Act of Parliament to inca- 
pacitate them from sitting in the Assembly. The President and Council 

jEt.42.] life of franklin. 149 

dent from which to draw the proclamation. My edu- 
cation in New England, where a fast is proclaimed 
every year, was here of some advantage; I drew it 
in the accustomed style ; it was translated into Ger- 
man, printed in both languages, and circulated through 
the province. This gave the clergy of the different 
sects an opportunity of influencing their congregations 
to join the Association, and it would probably have 
been general among all but the Quakers, if the peace 
had not soon intervened. 

It was thought by some of my friends, that, by my 
activity in these affairs, I should offend that sect, and 
thereby lose my interest in the Assembly of the prov- 
ince, where they formed a great majority. A young 
man, who had likewise some friends in the Assembly, 

have applied for a man-of-war, and the loan of cannon, to the governors 
of New England and Cape Breton ; and there is some reason to think, 
that, from one place or the other, there will be one or more vessels of 
force cruising on our coasts this summer." — MS. Letter, Philadelphia, 
March 25th, 1748. 

"I am truly concerned at what you say about the Association; but, as 
your notions of it are taken from the perusal of the Association paper 
only, I am in hopes it will be seen ifi another light when it comes to 
bo known, that they have never acted but by orders from the board ; 
that leaving them to choose their own officers was looked upon by the 
Council only in the nature of a recommendation, the tenure of their com- 
missions being to receive their orders from the Governor for the time 
being, according to the rules of war ; and they have it in their power 
at any time to revoke their commissions. The rules agreed to by the 
associators, though they are oddly expressed, and in too general terms, 
yet they were only intended for the more easy learning of the military 
art, and the more commodious management of their musters. They tell 
me that they plainly respect discipline, not action ; and, as they never 
thought of acting independently of the government, they are exceed- 
ingly surprised, that their intentions are so much misconstrued ; how- 
ever, if they should have missed it in the form, since in fact they have 
ever had recourse to the Council, since they have ever taken their 
measures from them, and have behaved with remarkable dutifulness, 
order, sobriety, and quietness, these they think such substantial evi- 
dences of their submission to the King and his representative here, that 
they will more than obviate the objections taken against their manner 

150 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1748. 

and wished to succeed me as their clerk, acquainted 
me, that it was decided to displace me at the next 
election ; and he through good will advised me to re- 
sign, as more consistent with my honor than being 
turned out. My answer to him was, that I had read 
or heard of some public man, who made it a rule, 
never to ask for an office, and never to refuse one 
when offered to him. "I approve," said I, "of this 
rule, and shall practise it with a small addition ; I shall 
never ask, never refuse, nor ever resign an office. 
If they will have my office of clerk to dispose of it to 
another, they shall take it from me. I will not, by 
giving it up, lose my right of some time or other mak- 

of wording their Association, and may draw upon them his Majesty's 
favor, not resentment. 

"I am no associator, and had no hand in the thing- or in any one 
paper that was drawn ; and, at the time it was proposed, no one could 
entertain more doubtful apprehensions than I did; but those wBo were 
at the head of it desired Mr. Allen to inform me, that they were all 
hearty friends of the Proprietaries, and had it much at heart to recom- 
mend themselves to their favor. They hoped that what was done from 
the glorious motive of defending the city would receive the Proprietaries' 
countenance, and that they woulflKbecome generous contributors. And 
in fact the batteries, with the numbers of men associated, their being 
furnished with arms and doing their military exercises to admiration, 
have rendered the minds of the citizens easy, have prevented a civil 
war within the province, and have, as I am well informed, frustrated 
some schemes concerted against the city by the people of Havana. 
These are considerations, which will, I hope, reconcile them to your 
favor; and, as I was an eyewitness of all their proceedings, justice extorts 
from me what I have said, and indeed would induce me to say every 
thing I could for them." — MS. Letter, June 13th, 1748. 

As cannon were afterwards sent from England, it is probable that the 
Proprietaries became better reconciled to the Association, when they 
were more fully informed of its objects. 

" The new large cannon, that lately arrived from England, purchased 
by the managers of the Lottery, being mounted on the great battery, on 
Monday last, the associators of this city met under arms and marched 
thither; where they were saluted with one and twenty guns, and named 
the battery The Association." — Pennsylvania Gazette, September 1st, 
J 748. — Editor. 

jEt. 42.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 151 

ing reprisal on my adversaries." I heard, however, no 
more of this ; I was chosen again unanimously as clerk 
at the next election. Possibly, as they disliked my 
late intimacy with the members of Council, who had 
joined the governors in all the disputes about military 
preparations, with which the House had long been 
harassed, they might have been pleased if I would 
voluntarily have left them ; but they did not care to 
displace me on account merely of my zeal for the 
Association, and they could not well give another reason. 

Indeed, I had some cause to believe, that the de- 
fence of the country was not disagreeable to any of 
them, provided they were not required to assist in it. 
And I found that a much greater number of them, 
than I could have imagined, though against offensive 
war, were clearly for the defensive. Many pamphlets 
pro and con were published on the subject, and some 
by good Quakers, in favor of defence ; which I believe 
convinced most of their young people. 

A transaction in our fire company gave me some in- 
sight into their prevailing sentiments. It had been pro- 
posed, that we should encourage the scheme for building 
a battery by laying out the present stock, then about 
sixty pounds, in tickets of the lottery. By our rules 
no money could be disposed of till the next meeting 
after the proposal. The company consisted of thirty 
members, of whom twenty-two were Quakers, and 
eight only of other persuasions. We eight punctually 
attended the meeting ; but, though we thought that 
some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no 
means sure of a majority. Only one Quaker, Mr. 
James Morris, appeared to oppose the measure. He 
expressed much sorrow, that it had ever been pro- 
posed, as he said Friends were all against it, and it 
would create such discord as might break up the com- 

152 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1748. 

pany. We told him, that we saw no reason for that ; 
we were the minority, and if Friends were against the 
measure, and out-voted us, we must and should, 
agreeably to the usage of all societies, submit. When 
the hour for business arrived, it was moved to put 
this to the vote; he allowed we might do it by the 
rules, but, as he could assure us that a number of 
members intended to be present for the purpose of 
opposing it, it would be but candid to allow a little 
time for their appearing. 

While we were disputing this, a waiter came to tell 
me, that two gentlemen below desired to speak with 
me. I went down, and found there two of our Quaker 
members. They told me, there were eight of them 
assembled at a tavern just by ; that they were deter- 
mined to come and vote with us if there should be 
occasion, which they hoped would not be the case, and 
desired we would not call for their assistance, if we 
could do without it ; as their voting for such a 
measure might embroil them with their elders and 
friends. Being thus secure of a majority, I went, up, 
and, after a little seeming hesitation, agreed to a delay 
of another hour. This Mr. Morris allowed to be ex- 
tremely fair. Not one of his opposing friends ap- 
peared, at which he expressed great surprise ; and, at 
the expiration of the hour, we carried the resolution 
eight to one ; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight 
were ready to vote with us, and thirteen by their ab- 
sence manifested that they were not inclined to oppose 
the measure, I afterwards estimated the proportion of 
Quakers sincerely against defence as one to twenty - 
one only. For these were all regular members of the 
society, and in good reputation among them, and who 
had notice of what was proposed at that meeting. 

The honorable and learned Mr. Logan, who had 

Mr. 41-43.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 153 

always been of that sect, wrote an address to them, 
declaring his approbation of defensive war, and sup- 
ported his opinion by many strong arguments. He 
put into my hands sixty pounds to be laid out in 
lottery tickets for the battery, with directions to apply 
what prizes might be drawn wholly to that service. 
He told me the following anecdote of his old master, 
William Penn, respecting defence. He came over from 
England when a young man, with that Proprietary, 
and as his secretary. It was war time, and their ship 
was chased by an armed vessel, supposed to be an 
enemy. Their captain prepared for defence; but told 
William Penn, and his company of Quakers, that he 
did not expect their assistance, and they might retire 
into the cabin; which they did, except James Logan, 
who chose to stay upon deck, and was quartered to 
a gun. The supposed enemy proved a friend, so there 
was no fighting ; but when the secretary went down 
to communicate the intelligence, William Penn rebuked 
him severely for staying upon deck, and undertaking 
to assist in defending the vessel, contrary to the prin- 
ciples of Friends ; especially as it had not been required 
by the captain. This reprimand, being before all the 
company, piqued the secretary, who answered; "I be- 
ing thy servant, why did thee not order me to come 
down? But thee was willing enough that I should 
stay and help to fight the ship, w T hen thee thought 
there was danger." 

My being many years in the Assembly, a majority 
of which were constantly Quakers, gave me frequenf 
opportunities of seeing the embarrassment given them 
by their principle against war, whenever application was 
made to them, by order of the crown, to grant aids for 
military purposes. They were unwilling to offend gov- 
ernment, on the one hand, by a direct refusal; and 

vol. i. 20 

154 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1747-49. 

their friends, the body of the Quakers, on the other, by 
a compliance contrary to their principles ; using a variety 
of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of disguis- 
ing the compliance, when it became unavoidable. The 
common mode at last was, to grant money under the 
phrase of its being "/or the King's use" and never tc 
inquire how it was applied. 

But, if the demand was not directly from the crown, 
that phrase was found not so proper, and some other 
w 7 as to be invented. Thus, when powder w T as want- 
ing (I think it was for the garrison at Louisburg), and 
the government of New England solicited a grant of 
some from Pennsylvania, which was much urged on 
the House by Governor Thomas, they would not grant 
money to buy powder, because that was an ingredient 
of war; but they voted an aid to New England of 
three thousand pounds, to be put into the hands of 
the Governor, and appropriated it for the purchase 
of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain. Some of the 
Council, desirous of giving the House still further em- 
barrassment, advised the Governor not to accept pro- 
vision, as not being the thing he had demanded ; but 
he replied, "I shall take the money, for I understand 
very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder;" 
which he accordingly bought, and they never objected 
to it. 

It was in allusion to this fact, that, when in our fire 
company we feared the success of our proposal in fa- 
vor of the lottery, and I had said to a friend of mine, 
one of our members, "If we fail, let us move the 
purchase of a fire engine with the money; the Qua- 
kers can have no objection to that ; and then, if you 
nominate me and I you as a committee for that pur- 
pose, we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a 
fire engine;" "I see," said he, "you have improved 

JEt. 41-43.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 155 

by being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal 
project would be just a match for their wheat or 
other grain." 

Those embarrassments that the Quakers suffered, 
from having established and published it as one of 
their principles, that no kind of war was lawful, and 
which, being once published, they could not afterwards, 
however they might change their minds, easily get rid 
of, reminds me of what I think a more prudent con- 
duct in another sect among us; that of the Dunkers. 
I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael 
Weffare, soon after it appeared. He complained to me, 
that they were grievously calumniated by the zealots 
of other persuasions, and charged with abominable 
principles and practices, to which they were utter 
strangers. I told him this had always been the case 
with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, 
I imagined it might be well to publish the articles of 
their belief, and the rules of their discipline. He said 
that it had been proposed among them, but not agreed 
to, for this reason ; " When we were first drawn to- 
gether as a society," said he, "it had pleased God 
to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doc- 
trines, which were esteemed truths, were errors; and 
that others, which we had esteemed errors, were real 
truths. From time to time He has been pleased to 
afford us further light, and our principles have been 
improving, and our errors diminishing. Now we are 
not sure, that we are arrived at the end of this pro- 
gression, and at the perfection of spiritual or theological 
knowledge ; and we fear, that, if we should once print 
our confession of faith, we should feel ourselves as 
if bound and confined by it, and perhaps be unwil- 
ling to receive further improvement ; and our succes- 
sors still more so, as conceiving what their elders and 

156 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1747-49. 

founders had done to be something sacred, never to 
be departed from." 

This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance 
in the history of mankind, every other sect supposing 
itself in possession of all truth, and that those who 
differ are so far in the wrong; like a man travelling in 
Foggy weather ; those at some distance before him on 
the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those 
behind him, and also the people in the fields on each 
side ; but near him all appear clear ; though in truth 
he is as much in the fog as any of them. To avoid 
this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of late 
years been gradually declining the public service in 
the Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather 
to quit their power than their principle. 

In order of time, I should have mentioned before, 
that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the 
better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving 
fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, 
I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, 
one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, 
found the casting of the plates for these stoves a 
profitable thing, as they were growing in demand. To 
promote that demand, I wrote and published a pam- 
phlet, entitled, " An Account of the new-invented Penn- 
sylvanian Fire-places ; wherein their Construction and 
Manner of Operation are particularly explained ; their 
Advantages above every other Method of warming 
Rooms demonstrated ; and all Objections that have been 
raised against the Use of them, answered and obvi- 
ated," &c* This pamphlet had a good effect ; Gover- 
nor Thomas was so pleased with the construction of 
this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give 

* See Vol. VI. p. 34. 

vEt. 43.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 157 

me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term 
of years ; but I declined it from a principle which 
has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz. 
That, as ice enjoy great advantages from the inventions 
of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve 
others by any invention of ours ; and this we should do 
freely and generously. 

An ironmonger in London, however, assuming a 
good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his 
own, and making some small changes in the machine, 
which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it 
there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. 
And this is not the only instance of patents taken out 
of my inventions by others, though not always with' the 
same success; which I never contested, as having no 
desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating dis- 
putes. The use of these fire-places in very many houses, 
both here in Pennsylvania, and the neighbouring States, 
has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the in- 

VOL. i. No. 4. N 

158 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1749. 


Proposals relating to the Education of Youth. — Subscriptions for that 
Object. — An Academy established. — Appointed one of the Trustees 
for managing it. — Partnership with David Hall. — Electrical Experi- 
ments. — Chosen a Member of the Assembly. — A Commissioner for 
making a Treaty with the Indians. — Pennsylvania Hospital. — Writes 
in Favor of it, and procures Subscriptions. — Advice to Gilbert Ten- 
nent. — Suggests Plans for cleaning, paving, and lighting the Streets 
of Philadelphia. — Project for cleaning the Streets of London. — Ap- 
pointed Postmaster-general for America. — Receives the Degree of 
Master of Arts from Harvard and Yale Colleges. 

Peace being concluded, and the Association business 
therefore at an end, I turned my thoughts again to the 
affair of establishing an academy. The first step I 
took was to associate in the design a number of active 
friends, of whom the Junto furnished a good part ; the 
next was to write and publish a pamphlet, entitled, 
Proposals relating to the Education of Youth in Penn- 
sylvania* This I distributed among the principal in- 
habitants gratis ; and as soon as I could suppose their 
minds a little prepared by the perusal of it, I set on 
foot a subscription for opening and supporting an 
academy ; it was to be paid in quotas yearly for five 
years ; by so dividing it I judged the subscription 
might be larger ; and I believe it was so, amounting to 
no less, if I remember right, than five thousand pounds.f 

* The same paper is mentioned above, p. 143. It appears not to have 
been printed when it was first written. See Appendix, No. III. — 

f Other great benefactions for this institution were subsequently ob- 
tained, both in America and Great Britain, through the influence of 
Dr. Franklin ; who, on his return to Philadelphia from England, in 1775, 
carried thence two large gold medals, given by Mr. Sargent, one of 
his friends, to be bestowed as prizes on such scholars as should dis- 
tinguish themselves by writing on subjects to be proposed to them by 
the trustees or governors of the college. Dr. Franklin, one of the trus- 


In the introduction to these proposals, I stated their 
publication not as an act of mine, but of some public - 
spirited gentlemen; avoiding as much as I could, ac- 
cording to my usual rule, the presenting myself to the 
public as the author of any scheme for their benefit. 

The subscribers, to carry the project into immediate 
execution, chose out of their number twenty-four trus- 
tees, and appointed Mr. Francis, then attorney-general, 
and myself, to draw up constitutions for the govern- 
ment of the academy ; which being done and signed, 
a house was hired, masters engaged, and the schools 
opened; I think in the same year, 1749.* 

The scholars increasing fast, the house was soon 
found too small, and we were looking out for a piece 
of ground, properly situated, with intent to build, when 
accident threw into our way a large house ready built, 
which with a few alterations might well serve our pur- 
pose. This was the building before mentioned, erected 
by the hearers of Mr. Whitefield, and was obtained for 
us in the following manner. 

It is to be noted, that, the contributions to this build- 
ing being made by people of different sects, care was 
taken in the nomination of trustees, in whom the build- 
ing and ground were to be vested, that a predom- 
inancy should not be given to any sect, lest in time 
that predominancy might be a means of appropri- 
ating the whole to the use of such sect, contrary to 
the original intention. It was for this reason, that one 
of each sect was appointed; viz. one Church- of-Eng- 
land man, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Moravian, 

tees, named for the first subject, " The Motives to, and Advantages of, a 
perpetual Union between Britain and her Colonies." Five pieces on the 
subject were produced, one of which obtained the medal. They were 
all printed, and read in America with approbation, and were reprinted 
in England. — W. T. F. 
*See Vol. VII. pp. 44-47. 

160 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1749. 

&c., who, in case of vacancy by death, were to fill it 
by election from among the contributors. The Mora- 
vian happened not to please his colleagues, and on 
his death they resolved to have no other of that sect. 
The difficulty then was, how to avoid having two of 
some other sect, by means of the new choice. 

Several persons were named, and for that reason 
not agreed to. At length one mentioned me, with the 
observation, that I was merely an honest man, and of 
no sect at all, which prevailed with them to choose me. 
The enthusiasm, which existed when the house was 
built, had long since abated, and its trustees had not 
been able to procure fresh contributions for paying the 
ground rent, and discharging some other debts the 
building had occasioned, which embarrassed them 
greatly. Being now a member of both boards of trus- 
tees, that for the building, and that for the academy, 
I had a good opportunity of negotiating with both, and 
brought them finally to an agreement, by which the 
trustees for the building were to cede it to those of 
the academy; the latter undertaking to discharge the 
debt, to keep for ever open in the building a large 
hall for occasional preachers, according to the original 
intention, and maintain a free school for the instruction 
of poor children. Writings were accordingly drawn; 
and, on paying the debts, the trustees of the academy 
were put in possession of the premises ; and, by di- 
viding the great and lofty hall into stories, and different 
rooms above and below for the several schools, and 
purchasing some additional ground, the whole was soon 
made fit for our purpose, and the scholars removed into 
the building. The whole care and trouble of agreeing 
with the workmen, purchasing materials, and super- 
intending the work, fell upon me ; and I went through 
it the more cheerfully, as it did not then interfere with 

<Et. 43.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 161 

my private business; having the year before taken a 
very able, industrious, and honest partner, Mr. David 
Hall, with whose character I was well acquainted, as 
he had worked for me four years. He took off my 
hands all care of the printing-office, paying me punc- 
tually my share of the profits. This partnership con- 
tinued eighteen years, successfully for us both. 

The trustees of the academy, after a while, were 
incorporated by a charter from the governor; their 
funds were increased by contributions in Britain, and 
grants of land from the Proprietaries, to which the As- 
sembly has since made considerable addition ; and thus 
was established the present University of Philadelphia. 
I have been continued one of its trustees from - the 
beginning, now near forty years, and have had the very 
great pleasure of seeing a number of the youth, who 
have received their education in it, distinguished by 
their improved abilities, serviceable in public stations, 
and ornaments to their country.* 

When I was disengaged myself, as above men- 
tioned, from private business, I flattered myself that, by 
the sufficient though moderate fortune I had acquired, 
I had found leisure during the rest of my life for phi- 

* A free school was likewise attached to the Academy, as appears by 
the following advertisement in Franklin's Gazette, of September 19th, 

" Notice is hereby given, that on Monday, the 16th of this instant Sep- 
tember, a free school will be opened, under the care and direction of the 
Trustees of the Academy, at the New Building, for the instruction of 
poor children gratis in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Those, who are 
desirous of having their children admitted, may apply to any of the 

Again, October 26th, 1752. " The charity school, opened by the Trus- 
tees in the Academy, now teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic to 
a hundred poor children, most of whom, though from eight to thirteen 
years of age, had never been sent to any school before ; nor did it seem 
likely many of them would ever have been sent to any school, if it had 
not been for this institution." — Editor. 

VOL. I. 21 N * 

162 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1750. 

losophicar studies and amusements. I purchased all 
Dr. Spence's apparatus, who had come 'from England 
to lecture in Philadelphia, and I proceeded in my elec- 
trical experiments with great alacrity ; but the public, 
now considering me as a man of leisure, laid hold of 
me for their purposes ; every part of our civil govern- 
ment, and almost at the same time, imposing some 
duty upon me. The governor put me into the com- 
mission of the peace ; the corporation of the city chose 
me one of the common council, and soon after alder- 
man ; and the citizens at large elected me a burgess 
to represent them in the Assembly. This latter sta- 
tion was the more agreeable to me, as I grew at length 
tired with sitting there to hear the debates, in which, 
as clerk, I could take no part ; and which were often 
so uninteresting, that I was induced to amuse myself 
with making magic squares or circles, or any thing to 
avoid weariness ; * and I conceived my becoming a 
member would enlarge my power of doing good. I 
would not however insinuate, that my ambition was not 
flattered by all these promotions ; it certainly was, for, 
considering my low beginning, they were great things 
to me ; and they were still more pleasing, as being so 
many spontaneous testimonies of the public good opin- 
ion, and by me entirely unsolicited. 

The office of justice of the peace I tried a little, by 
attending a few courts, and sitting on the bench to 
hear causes ; but finding that more knowledge of the 
common law than I possessed was necessary to act in 
that station with credit, I gradually withdrew from it; 
excusing myself by being obliged to attend the higher 
duties of a legislator in the Assembly. My election to 
this trust w T as repeated every year for ten years, with- 

* See Vol. VI. pp. 100, 104. 

Mt. 44] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. * 163 

out my ever asking any elector for his vote, or signi- 
fying, either directly or indirectly, any desire of being 
chosen. On taking my seat in the House, my son was 
appointed their clerk. 

The year following, a treaty being to be held with 
the Indians at Carlisle, the governor sent a message 
to the House, proposing that they should nominate some 
of their members, to be joined with some members 
of Council, as commissioners for that purpose. The 
House named the Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; 
and, being commissioned, we went to Carlisle, and met 
the Indians accordingly. 

As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, 
and, when so, are very quarrelsome and disorderly* we 
strictly forbade the selling any liquor to them; and, 
when they complained of this restriction, we told them, 
that, if they would continue sober during the treaty, 
we would give them plenty of rum when the business 
was over. They promised this, and they kept their 
promise, because they could get no rum, and the treaty 
was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual 
satisfaction. They then claimed and received the rum ; 
this was in the afternoon; they were near one hun- 
dred men, women, and children, and were lodged in 
temporary cabins, built in the form of a square, just 
without the town. In the evening, hearing a great noise 
among them, the commissioners walked to see what 
was the matter. We found they had made a great 
bonfire in the middle of the square ; they were all drunk, 
men and women, quarrelling and fighting. Their dark- 
colored bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light 
of the bonfire, running after and beating one another 
with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, 
formed a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell 
that could well be imagined; there was no appeasing 

164 ' LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1751. 

the tumult, and we retired to our lodging. At midnight 
a number of them came thundering at our door, de- 
manding more rum, of which we took no notice. 

The next day, sensible they had misbehaved, in giv- 
ing us that disturbance, they sent three of their old 
counsellors to make their apology. The orator ac- 
knowledged the fault, but laid it upon the rum ; and 
then endeavoured to excuse the rum, by saying, "The 
Great Spirit, who made all things, made every thing for 
some use, and whatever use he designed any thing 
for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when 
he made rum, he said, ' Let this be for the Indians to 
get drunk with; 9 and it must be so." And indeed, 
if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these 
savages in order to make room for the cultivators of 
the earth, it seems not impossible that rum may be 
the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the 
tribes who formerly inhabited the seacoast. 

In 1751, Dr. Thomas Bond, a particular friend of 
mine, conceived the idea of establishing a hospital in 
Philadelphia, (a very beneficent design, which has been 
ascribed to me, but was originally and truly his,) for 
the reception and cure of poor sick persons, w T hether 
inhabitants of the province or strangers. He was zeal- 
ous and active in endeavouring to procure subscriptions 
for it; but, the proposal being a novelty in America, 
and at first not well understood, he met but with little 

At length he came to me with the compliment, that 
he found there was no such a thing as carrying a 
public-spirited project through without my being con- 
cerned in it. "For," said he, "I am often asked 'by 
those to whom I propose subscribing, Have you consult- 
ed Franklin on this business ? And what does he think 
of it? And when I tell them, that I have not, sup- 

jEt. 45.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 165 

posing it rather out of your line, they do not subscribe, 
but say, they will consider UP I inquired into the 
nature and probable utility of this scheme, and, receiv- 
ing from him a very satisfactory explanation, I not only 
subscribed to it myself, but engaged heartily in the 
design of procuring subscriptions from others. Pre- 
viously, however, to the solicitation, I endeavoured to 
prepare the minds of the people, by writing on the 
subject in the newspapers, which was my usual cus- 
tom in such cases, but which Dr. Bond had omitted. 

The subscriptions afterwards were more free and 
generous ; but, beginning to flag, I saw they would be 
insufficient without some assistance from the Assembly, 
and therefore proposed to petition for it; which was 
done. The country members did not at first relish the 
project ; they objected that it could only be serviceable 
to the city, and therefore the citizens alone should be 
at the* expense of it; and they doubted whether the 
citizens themselves generally approved of it. My al- 
legation on the contrary, that it met with such appro- 
bation as to leave no doubt of our being able to raise 
two thousand pounds by voluntary donations, they 
considered as a most extravagant supposition, and ut- 
terly impossible. 

On this I formed my plan ; and, asking leave to 
bring in a bill for incorporating the contributors ac- 
cording to the prayer of their petition, and granting 
them a blank sum of money; which leave was ob- 
tained chiefly on the consideration, that the House 
could throw the bill out if they did not like it ; I drew 
it so as to make the important clause a conditional 
one; viz. "And be it enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that, when the said contributors shall have met 
and chosen their managers and treasurer, and shall 
have raised by their contributions a capital stock of 


two thousand pounds' value, (the yearly interest of 
which is to be applied to the accommodation of tne 
sick poor in the said hospital, and of charge for diet, 
attendance, advice, and medicines,) and shall make the 
same appear to the satisfaction of the Speaker of the 
Assembly for the time being; that then it shall and 
may be lawful for the said Speaker, and he is hereby 
required, to sign an order on the provincial treasurer, 
for the payment of two thousand pounds, in two yearly 
payments, to the treasurer -of the said hospital, to be 
applied to the founding, building, and finishing of the 

This condition carried the bill through ; for the mem- 
bers, who had opposed the grant, and now conceived 
they might have the credit of being charitable without 
the expense, agreed to its passage; and then in so- 
liciting subscriptions among the people, we urged the 
conditional promise of the law as an additional Inotive 
to give, since every man's donation would be doubled ; 
thus the clause worked both ways. The subscriptions 
accordingly soon exceeded the requisite sum, and we 
claimed and received the public gift, which enabled 
us to carry the design into execution. A convenient 
and handsome building was soon erected ; the insti- 
tution has by constant experience been found useful, 
and flourishes to this day; and I do not remember 
any of my political manoeuvres, the success of which 
at the time gave me more pleasure; or wherein, after 
thinking of it, I more easily excused myself for having 
made some use of cunning.* 

* The principal facts, respecting the origin and establishment of the 
Hospital, are contained in a quarto pamphlet, entitled "Some Account 
of the Pennsylvania Hospital, from its first Rise to the Beginning of the 
Fifth Month, called May, 1754, Philadelphia; printed by B. Franklin and 
D. Hall" The Bill, alluded to in the text, makes a part of this pam- 


It was about this time, that another projector, the 
Reverend Gilbert Tennent, came to me with a request, 
that I would assist him in procuring a subscription 
for erecting a new meetinghouse. It was to be for 
the use of a congregation he had gathered among 
the Presbyterians, who were originally disciples of 
Mr. Whitefield. Unwilling to make myself disagree- 
able to my fellow citizens, by too frequently soliciting 
their contributions, I absolutely refused. He then de- 
sired I would furnish him with a list of the names of 
persons I knew by experience to be generous and 
public-spirited. I thought it would be unbecoming in 
me, after their kind compliance with my solicitations, 
to mark them out to be worried by other beggars, and 
therefore refused to give such a list. He then desired 
I would at least give him my advice. "That I will 

phlet ; and also two papers previously published in the Pennsylvania Ga- 
zette, showing the benefits of such an institution, and urging- contribu- 
tions to the fund from motives of benevolence and charity. The names 
of the original contributors are likewise printed in this pamphlet, and 
among them is that of Franklin. The preliminary arrangements were 
completed, and the first managers were elected, on the 1st of July, 1751. 
The persons chosen were Joshua Crosby, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas 
Bond, Samuel Hazard, Richard Peters, Israel Pemberton, junior, Samuel 
Rhoads, Hugh Roberts, Joseph Morris, John Smith, Evan Morgan, and 
Charles Norris. The elections were annual, and Franklin was chosen 
for three years successively, which is as far as the records in the 
pamphlet extend, and probably till he went to England as a commis- 
sioner from the Assembly in 1757. He also acted as secretary of the 
board. While in England, he corresponded with the friends of the in- 
stitution, as an agent for aiding its objects, and he always took a lively 
interest in its affairs. In a letter to Hugh Roberts, dated London, 
February 26th, 1761, he says ; "I was glad to hear that the Hospital is 
still well supported. I write to the managers by this ship. In my 
journeys through England and Scotland I have visited several of the 
same kind, which I think were all in a good way. I send you by this 
ship sundry of their accounts and rules, which were given me. Possi- 
bly you may find a useful hint or two in some of them. I believe 
we shall be able to make a small collection here ; but I cannot promise 
it will be very considerable." — Editor. 


readily do," said I; "and, in the first place, I advise 
you to apply to all those, who you know will give 
something; next to those who you are uncertain 
whether they will give any thing or not, and show 
them the list of those who have given ; and lastly, do 
not neglect those, who you are sure will give nothing; 
for in some of them you may be mistaken." He 
laughed and thanked me, and said he would take my 
advice. He did so, for he asked of everybody ; and 
he obtained a much larger than he expected, with 
which he erected the capacious and elegant meeting- 
house that stands in Arch Street. 

Our city, though laid out with a beautiful regularity, 
the streets large, straight, and crossing each other at 
right angles, had the disgrace of suffering those streets 
to remain long unpaved, and in wet weather the wheels 
of heavy carriages ploughed them into a quagmire, so 
that it was difficult to cross them ; and in dry weather 
the dust was offensive. I had lived near what was 
called the Jersey Market, and saw with pain the in- 
habitants wading in mud, while purchasing their pro- 
visions. A strip of ground down the middle of that 
market was at length paved with brick, so that, being 
once in the market, they had firm footing; but were 
often over shoes in dirt to get there. By talking and 
writing on the subject, I was at length instrumental 
in getting the street paved with stone between the 
market and the brick foot pavement, that was on the 
side next the houses. This, for some time, gave an 
easy access to the market dry-shod ; but, the rest of 
the street not being paved, whenever a carriage came 
out of the mud upon this pavement, it shook off and 
left its dirt upon it, and it was soon covered with 
mire, which was not removed, the city as yet having 
no scavengers. 


After some inquiry, I found a poor industrious man, 
who was willing to undertake keeping the pavement 
clean, by sweeping it twice a week, carrying off the 
dirt from before all the neighbours' doors, for the sum 
of sixpence per month, to be paid by each house. I 
then wrote and printed a paper setting forth the ad- 
vantages to the neighbourhood, that might be obtained 
from this small expense; the greater ease in keeping 
our houses clean, so much dirt not being brought in by 
people's feet; the benefit to the shops by more cus- 
tom, as buyers could more easily get at them ; and by 
not having in windy weather the dust blown in upon 
their goods, &c. &c. I sent one of these papers to 
each house, and in a day or two went round to " see 
who would subscribe an agreement to pay these six- 
pences ; it was unanimously signed, and for a time 
well executed. All the inhabitants of the city were 
delighted with the cleanliness of the pavement that 
surrounded the market, it being a convenience to all, 
and this raised a general desire to have all the streets 
paved; and made the people more willing to submit 
to a tax for that purpose. 

After some time I drew a bill for paving the city, 
and brought it into the Assembly. It was just before 
I went to England, in 1757, and did not pass till I 
was gone, and then with an alteration in the mode 
of assessment, which I thought not for the better ; but 
with an additional provision for lighting as well as 
paving the streets, which was a great improvement. 
It was by a private person, the late Mr. John Clifton, 
giving a sample of the utility of lamps, by placing one 
at his door, that the people were first impressed with 
the idea of lighting all the city. The honor of this 
public benefit has also been ascribed to me, but it 
belongs truly to that gentleman. I did but follow his 

vol. i. 22 o 


example, and have only some merit to claim respecting 
the form of our lamps, as differing from the globe 
lamps, we were at first supplied with from London. 
They were found inconvenient in these respects ; they 
admitted no air below ; the smoke therefore did not 
readily go out above, but circulated in the globe, 
lodged on its inside, and soon obstructed the light 
they were intended to afford ; giving besides the daily 
trouble of wiping them clean ; and an accidental stroke 
on one of them would demolish it, and render it to- 
tally useless. I therefore suggested the composing 
them of four flat panes, with a long funnel above to 
draw up the smoke, and crevices admitting the air 
below to facilitate the ascent of the smoke ; by this 
means they were kept clean, and did not grow dark 
in a few hours, as the London lamps do, but continued 
bright till morning; and an accidental stroke would 
generally break but a single pane, easily repaired. 

I have sometimes wondered that the Londoners did 
not, from the effect holes in the bottom of the globe 
lamps used at Vauxhall have in keeping them clean, 
learn to have such holes in their street lamps. But, 
these holes being made for another purpose, viz. to 
communicate flame more suddenly to the wick by a 
little flax hanging down through them, the other use, 
of letting in air, seems not to have been thought of; 
and therefore, after the lamps have been lit a few 
hours, the streets of London are very poorly illu- 

The mention of these improvements puts me in mind 
of one I proposed, when in London, to Dr. Fothergill, 
who was among the best men I have known, and a 
great promoter of useful projects. I had observed, that 
the streets, when dry, were never swept, and the light 
dust carried away; but it was suffered to accumulate 


till wet weather reduced it to mud ; and then, after 
lying some days so deep on the pavement that there 
was no crossing but in paths kept clean by poor peo- 
ple with brooms, it was with great labor raked to- 
gether and thrown up into carts, open above, the sides 
of which suffered some of the slush at every jolt on 
the pavement to shake out and fall ; sometimes to the 
annoyance of foot passengers. The reason given for 
not sweeping the dusty streets was, that the dust would 
fly into the windows of shops and houses. 

An accidental occurrence had instructed me how 
much sweeping might be done in a little time. I found 
at my door in Craven Street, one morning, a poor 
woman sweeping my pavement with a birch broom ; 
she appeared very pale and feeble, as just come out 
of a fit of sickness. I asked who employed her to 
sweep there ; she said, " Nobody ; but I am poor and 
in distress, and I sweeps before gentlefolkeses doors, 
and hopes they will give me something." I bid her 
sweep the whole street clean, and I would give her a 
shilling ; this was at nine o'clock ; at noon she came 
for the shilling. From the slowness I saw at first in 
her working, I could scarce believe that the work was 
done so soon, and sent my servant to examine it, who 
reported that the whole street was swept perfectly 
clean, and all the dust placed in the gutter which was 
in the middle ; and the next rain washed it quite 
away, so that the pavement and even the kennel were 
perfectly clean. 

I then judged, that, if that feeble woman could 
sweep such a street in three hours, a strong active 
man might have done it in half the time. And here let 
me remark, the convenience of having but one gutter 
in such a narrow street running down its middle in- 
stead of two, one on each side near the footway. For 


where all the rain that falls on a street runs from the 
sides and meets in the middle, it forms there a current 
strong enough to wash away all the mud it meets 
with ; but, when divided into two channels, it is often 
too weak to cleanse either, and only makes the mud it 
finds more fluid ; so that the wheels of carriages and 
feet of horses throw and dash it upon the foot pave- 
ment, which is thereby rendered foul and slippery, 
and sometimes splash it upon those who are walk- 
ing. My proposal, communicated to the Doctor, was 
as follows ; 

" For the more effectually cleaning and keeping clean 
the streets of London and Westminster, it is proposed, 
that the several watchmen be contracted with to have 
the dust swept up in dry seasons, and the mud raked 
up at other times, each in the several streets and lanes 
of his round ; that they be furnished with brooms and 
other proper instruments for these purposes, to be kept 
at their respective stands, ready to furnish the poor 
people they may employ in the service. 

"That in the dry summer months the dust be all 
swept up into heaps at proper distances, before the 
shops and windows of houses are usually opened ; 
when scavengers, with close covered carts, shall also 
carry it all away. 

"That the mud, when raked up, be not left in 
heaps to be spread abroad again by the wheels of car- 
riages and trampling of horses ; but that the scaven- 
gers be provided with bodies of carts, not placed high 
upon wheels, but low upon sliders, with lattice bot- 
toms, which, being covered with straw, will retain the 
mud thrown into them, and permit the water to drain 
from it; whereby it will become much lighter, water 
making the greatest part of the weight. These bodies 
of carts to be placed at convenient distances, and the 


mud brought to them in wheelbarrows ; they remain- 
ing where placed till the mud is drained, and then 
horses brought to draw them away." 

I have since had doubts of the practicability of the 
latter part of this proposal, in all places, on account 
of the narrowness of some streets, and the difficulty 
of placing the draining sleds so as not to encumber 
too much the passage ; but I am still of opinion, that 
the former, requiring the dust to be swept up and 
carried away before the shops are open, is very prac- 
ticable in the summer, when the days are long; for, 
in walking through the Strand and Fleet Street one 
morning at seven o'clock, I observed there was not 
one shop open, though it had been daylight and the 
sun up above three hours; the inhabitants of London 
choosing voluntarily to live much by candle-light, and 
sleep by sunshine; and yet often complain, a little 
absurdly, of the duty on candles, and the high price 
of tallow. 

Some may think these trifling matters not worth 
minding or relating ; but, when they consider, that 
though dust blown into the eyes of a single person, 
or into a single shop in a windy day, is but of small 
importance, yet the great number of the instances in 
a populous city, and its frequent repetition, gives it 
weight and consequence, perhaps they will not cen- 
sure very severely those, who bestow some atten- 
tion to affairs of this seemingly low nature. Human 
felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of 
good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advan- 
tages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor 
young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in 
order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his 
life than in giving him a thousand guineas. This sum 


174 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1753. 

may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having 
foolishly consumed it ; but in the other case, he escapes 
the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of 
their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and 
dull razors; he shaves when most convenient to him, 
and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with 
a good instrument. With these sentiments I have 
hazarded the few preceding pages, hoping they may 
afford hints, which some time or other may be use- 
ful to a city I love, having lived many years in it 
very happily, and perhaps to some of our towns in 

Having been some time employed by the postmaster- 
general of America, as his comptroller in regulating 
several offices, and bringing the officers to account, I 
was, upon his death, in 1753, appointed jointly with 
Mr. William Hunter, to succeed him, by a commission 
from the postmaster-general in England. The Ameri- 
can office had hitherto never paid any thing to that 
of Britain. We were to have six hundred pounds 
a year between us, if we could make that sum out 
of the profits of the office. To do this, a variety of 
improvements was necessary ; some of these were in- 
evitably at first expensive; so that in the first four 
years the office became above nine hundred pounds 
in debt to us. But it soon after began to repay 
us; and before I was displaced by a freak of the 
ministers, of which I shall speak hereafter, we had 
brought it to yield three times as much clear reve- 
nue to the crown, as the postoffice of Ireland. Since 
that imprudent transaction, they have received from 
it — not one farthing! 

The business of the postoffice occasioned my taking 
a journey this year to New England, where the Col- 

®®EE)3§Kr Tamms3ii 


Mt.47.] life of franklin. 175 

lege of Cambridge, of their own motion, presented me 
with the degree of Master of Arts. Yale College in 
Connecticut had before made me a similar compli- 
ment. Thus, without studying in any College, I came 
to partake of their honors. They were conferred in 
consideration of my improvements and discoveries in 
the electric branch of natural philosophy. 

176 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1754. 


Attends a General Convention at Albany, as a Delegate from Pennsyl- 
vania. — Proposes a Plan of Union for the Colonies, which is adopted 
by the Convention. — Interview with Governor Shirley at Boston. — 
Conversations with Governor Morris on Pennsylvania Affairs. — Assists 
Mr. Quincy in procuring Aids for New England. — Visits General 
Braddock's Army in Maryland. — Procures Horses and Wagons to 
facilitate the March of the Army. — Obtains Supplies for the Officers. 
— Character of Braddock. — Account of his Defeat in the Battle of 
the Monongahela. — Braddock commends his Services in Letters to 
the Government. — These Services poorly rewarded. — Society for the 
Relief and Instruction of Germans in Pennsylvania. 

In 1754, war with France being again apprehended, 
a congress of commissioners from the different colonies 
was by an order of the Lords of Trade to be assem- 
bled at Albany ; there to confer with the chiefs of the 
Six Nations, concerning the means of defending both 
their country and ours. Governor Hamilton, having 
received this order, acquainted the House with it, re- 
questing they would furnish proper presents for the 
Indians, to be given on this occasion ; and naming the 
Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself to join Mr. John 
Penn and Mr. Secretary Peters, as commissioners to 
act for Pennsylvania. The House approved the nom- 
ination, and provided the goods for the presents, though 
they did not much like treating out of the province; 
and we met the other commissioners at Albany about 
the middle of June. 

In our way thither, I projected and drew up a Plan 
for the union of all the colonies under one govern- 
ment, so far as might be necessary for defence, and 
other important general purposes. As we passed 
through New York, I had there shown my project to 
Mr. James Alexander and Mr. Kennedy, two gentlemen 

Mt. 48.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 177 

of great knowledge in public affairs ; and, being fortified 
by their approbation, I ventured to lay it before the 
congress. It then appeared, that several of the com- 
missioners had formed plans of the same kind. A 
previous question was first taken, whether a union 
should be established, which passed in the affirmative 
unanimously. A committee was then appointed, one 
member from each colony, to consider the several plans 
and report. Mine happened to be preferred, and, with 
a few amendments, was accordingly reported. 

By this plan the general government was to be ad- 
ministered by a President-general, appointed and sup- 
ported by the crown ; and a grand council was to be 
chosen by the representatives of the people of the 
several colonies, met in their respective assemblies. 
The debates upon it in congress went on daily, hand in 
hand with the Indian business. Many objections and 
difficulties were started; but at length they were all 
overcome, and the plan was unanimously agreed to, 
and copies ordered to be transmitted to the Board of 
Trade and to the Assemblies of the several provinces. 
Its fate was singular ; the Assemblies did not adopt it, 
as they all thought there was too much prerogative in 
it; and in England it was judged to have too much 
of the democratic. The Board of Trade did not ap- 
prove it, nor recommend it for the approbation of his 
Majesty; but another scheme w r as formed, supposed to 
answer the same purpose better, whereby the governors 
of the provinces, with some members of their respective 
councils, were to meet and order the raising of troops, 
building of forts, &c, and to draw on the treasury of 
Great Britain for the expense, which was afterwards 
to be refunded by an act of Parliament laying a tax 
on America. My plan, with my reasons in support of 

vol. i. 23 

178 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1754. 

it, is to be found among my political papers that were 

Being the winter following in Boston, I had much 
conversation with Governor Shirley upon both the plans. 
Part of what passed between us on this occasion may 
also be seen among those papers. f The different and 
contrary reasons of dislike to my plan makes me sus- 
pect that it was really the true medium; and I am 
still of opinion, it would have been happy for both 
sides, if it had been adopted. The colonies so united 
would have been sufficiently strong to have defended 
themselves; there would then have been no need of 
troops from England ; of course the subsequent pretext 
for taxing America, and the bloody contest it occa- 
sioned, would have been avoided. But such mistakes 
are not new ; history is full of the errors of states and 

"Look round the habitable world, how few 
Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue!" 

Those who govern, having much business on their 
hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of con- 
sidering and carrying into execution new projects. The 
best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from 
previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion. 

The Governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down 
to the Assembly, expressed his approbation of the plan, 
" as appearing to him to be drawn up with great clear- 
ness and strength of judgment, and therefore recom- 
mended it as well worthy of their closest and most 
serious attention." The House, however, by the man- 
agement of a certain member, took it up when I hap- 
pened to be absent, which I thought not very fair, and . 
reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all, 
to my no small mortification. 

* See Vol. III. pp. 22-55. f Ibid. p. 56. 

Mt. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 179 

In my journey to Boston this year, I met at New 
York with our new governor, Mr. Morris, just arrived 
there from England, with whom I had been before in- 
timately acquainted. He brought a commission to su- 
persede Mr. Hamilton, who, tired with the disputes his 
proprietary instructions subjected him to, had resigned. 
Mr. Morris asked me, if I thought he must expect as 
uncomfortable an administration. I said, " No ; you may 
on the contrary have a very comfortable one, if you 
will only take care not to enter into any dispute with 
the Assembly." " My dear friend," said he pleasantly, 
"how can you advise my avoiding disputes? You 
know I love disputing, it is one of my greatest pleas- 
ures; however, to show the regard I have for your 
counsel, I promise you I will, if possible, avoid them." 
He had some reason for loving to dispute, being elo- 
quent, an acute sophister, and therefore generally suc- 
cessful in argumentative conversation. He had been 
brought up to it from a boy, his father, as I have 
heard, accustoming his children to dispute with one 
another for his diversion, while sitting at table after 
dinner; but I think the practice was not wise, for, in 
the course of my observation, those disputing, contra- 
dicting, and confuting people, are generally unfortunate 
in their affairs. They get victory sometimes, but they 
never get good will, which would be of more use to 
them. We parted, he going to Philadelphia, and I to 

In returning I met at New York with tne votes of 
the Assembly of Pennsylvania, by which it appeared, 
that, notwithstanding his promise to me, he and the 
House were already in high contention; and it was a 
continual battle between them, as long as he retained 
the government. I had my share of it; for, as soon as 
I got back to my seat in the Assembly, I was put on 

180 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

every committee for answering his speeches and mes- 
sages, and by the committees always desired to make 
the drafts. Our answers, as well as his messages, 
were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive ; and, 
as he knew I wrote for the Assembly, one might have 
imagined, that, when we met, we could hardly avoid 
cutting throats. But he was so good-natured a man, 
that no personal difference between him and me was 
occasioned by the contest, and we often dined together. 

One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, 
w r e met in the street. "Franklin," said he, "you must 
go home with me and spend the evening; I am to 
have some company that you will like;" and, taking 
me by the arm, led me to his house. In gay conver- 
sation over our wine, after supper, he told us jokingly, 
that he much admired the idea of Sancho Panza, who, 
when it was proposed to give him a government, re- 
quested it might be a government of blacks; as then, 
If he could not agree with his people, he might sell 
them. One of his friends, who sat next to me, said, 
"Franklin, why do you continue to side with those 
damned Quakers ? Had you not better sell them 1 
The Proprietor would give you a good price." " The 
Governor," said I, " has not yet blacked them enough." 
He indeed had labored hard to blacken the Assembly 
in all his messages, but they wiped off his coloring as 
fast as he laid it on, and placed it, in return, thick 
upon his own face; so that, finding he was likely to 
be negrofied himself, he, as well as Mr. Hamilton, grew 
tired of the contest, and quitted the government. 

These public quarrels were all at bottom owing to 
the Proprietaries, our hereditary governors ; who, when 
any expense was to be incurred for the defence of 
their province, with incredible meanness, instructed their 
deputies to pass no act for levying the necessary 

Mr. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 181 

taxes, unless their vast estates were in the same act ex« 
pressly exonerated ; and they had even taken the bonds 
of these deputies to observe such instructions. The 
Assemblies for three years held out against this injus- 
tice, though constrained to bend at last. At length 
Captain Denny, who was Governor Morris's successor, 
ventured to disobey those instructions ; how that was 
brought about I shall show hereafter. 

But I am got forward too fast with my story ; there 
are still some transactions to be mentioned, that hap- 
pened during the administration of Governor Morris. 

War being in a manner commenced with France, 
the government of Massachusetts Bay projected an at- 
tack upon Crown Point, and sent Mr. Quincy to Penn- 
sylvania, and Mr. Pownall, afterwards Governor Pow- 
nall, to New York, to solicit assistance. As I was in 
the Assembly, knew its temper, and was Mr. Quincy's 
countryman, he applied to me for my influence and 
assistance. I dictated his address to them, which was 
well received. They voted an aid of ten thousand 
pounds, to be laid out in provisions. But, the Governor 
refusing his assent to their bill, (which included this 
with other sums granted for the use of the crown,) 
unless a clause were inserted, exempting the proprie- 
tary estate from bearing any part of the tax that would 
be necessary; the Assembly, though very desirous of 
making their grant to New England effectual, were 
at a loss how to accomplish it. Mr. Quincy -labored 
hard with the Governor to obtain his assent, but he 
was obstinate. 

I then suggested a method of doing the business 
without the Governor, by orders on the trustees of 
the Loan Office, which, by law, the Assembly had 
the right of drawing. There was indeed little or no 
money at the time in the office, and therefore I pro- 

VOL. I. P 

182 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

posed, that the orders should be payable in a year, 
and to bear an interest of five per cent. With these 
orders I supposed the provisions might easily be pur- 
chased. The Assembly, with very little hesitation, 
adopted the proposal. The orders were immediately 
printed, and I was one of the committee directed to 
sign and dispose of them. The fund for paying them 
was the interest of all the paper currency then ex- 
tant in the province upon loan, together with the rev- 
enue arising from the excise, which being known to 
be more than sufficient, they obtained credit, and were 
not only taken in payment for the provisions, but 
many moneyed people, who had cash lying by them, 
vested it in those orders, which they found advan- 
tageous, as they bore interest while upon hand, and 
might on any occasion be used as money. So that 
they were eagerly all bought up, and in a few weeks 
none of them was to be seen. Thus this important 
affair was by my means completed. Mr. Quincy re- 
turned thanks to the Assembly in a handsome memo- 
rial, went home highly pleased with the success of his 
embassy, and ever after bore for me the most cordial 
and affectionate friendship. 

The British government, not choosing to permit the 
union of the colonies as proposed at Albany, and to 
trust that union with their defence, lest they should 
thereby grow too military, and feel their own strength, 
suspicion and jealousies at this time being entertained 
of them, sent over General Braddock with two regi- 
ments of regular English troops for that purpose. He 
landed at Alexandria in Virginia, and thence marched 
to Frederictown in Maryland, where he halted for car- 
riages. Our Assembly apprehending, from some infor- 
mation, that he had received violent prejudices against 
them, as averse to the service, wished me to wait 

At. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 183 

upon him, not as from them, but as postmaster-general, 
under the guise of proposing to settle with him the 
mode of conducting with most celerity and certainty 
the despatches between him and the governors of the 
several provinces, with whom he must necessarily have 
continual correspondence ; and of which they proposed 
to pay the expense. My son accompanied me on this 

We found the General at Frederictown, waiting im- 
patiently for the return of those he had sent through 
the back parts of Maryland and Virginia to collect 
wagons. I stayed with him several days, dined with 
him daily, and had full opportunities of removing his 
prejudices, by the information of what the Assembly 
had before his arrival actually done, and were still 
willing to do, to facilitate his operations. When I was 
about to depart, the returns of wagons to be obtained 
were brought in, by which it appeared, that they 
amounted only to twenty-five, and not all of those were 
in serviceable condition. The General and all the of- 
ficers were surprised, declared the expedition was then 
at an end, being impossible ; and exclaimed against the 
ministers for ignorantly sending them into a country 
destitute of the means of conveying their stores, bag- 
gage, &c, not less than one hundred and fifty wagons 
being necessary. 

I happened to say, I thought it was a pity they had 
not been landed in Pennsylvania, as in that country 
almost every farmer had his wagon. The General 
eagerly laid hold of my words, and said, "Then you, 
Sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably pro- 
cure them for us; and I beg you will undertake it." 
I asked what terms were to be offered the owners 
of the wagons; and I was desired to put on paper 
the terms that appeared to me necessary. This I did, 

184 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

and they were agreed to, and a commission and in- 
structions accordingly prepared immediately. What 
those terms were will appear in the advertisement I 
published as soon as I arrived at Lancaster; which 
being, from the great and sudden effect it produced, 
a piece of some curiosity, I shall insert it at length as 

" Advertisement. 

"Lancaster, April 26th, 1755. 

" Whereas, one hundred and fifty wagons, with four 
horses to each wagon, and fifteen hundred saddle or 
pack horses, are wanted for the service of his Majesty's 
forces, now about to rendezvous at Will's Creek ; and 
his Excellency General Braddock having been pleased 
to empower me to contract for the hire of the same ; 
I hereby give notice, that I shall attend for that pur- 
pose at Lancaster from this day to next Wednesday 
evening; and at York from next Thursday morning, 
till Friday evening; where I shall be ready to agree 
for wagons and teams, or single horses, on the follow- 
ing terms; viz. 1. That there shall be paid for each 
wagon, with four good horses and a driver, fifteen 
shillings per diem; and for each able horse with a 
pack-saddle, or other saddle and furniture, two shillings 
per diem; and for each able horse without a saddle, 
eighteen pence per diem. 2. That the pay commence 
from the time of their joining the forces at Will's Creek, 
which must be on or before the 20th of May ensu- 
ing, and that a reasonable allowance be paid over and 
above for the time necessary for their travelling to 
Will's Creek and home again after their discharge. 
3. Each wagon and team, and every saddle or pack- 
horse is to be valued by indifferent persons chosen 
between me and the owner ; and, in case of the loss 

&t. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 185 

of any wagon, team, or other horse in the service, the 
price according to such valuation is to be allowed and 
paid. 4. Seven days' pay is to be advanced and paid 
in hand by me to the owner of each w 7 agon and team, 
or horse, at the time of contracting, if required; and 
the remainder to be paid by General Braddock, or by 
the paymaster of the army, at the time of their dis- 
charge ; or from time to time, as it shall be demanded. 
5. No drivers of wagons, or persons taking care of the 
hired horses, are on any account to be called upon to 
do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed 
than in conducting or taking care of their carriages or 
horses. 6. All oats, Indian corn, or other forage that 
wagons or horses bring to the camp, more than is 
necessary for the subsistence of the horses, is to be 
taken for the use of the army, and a reasonable price 
paid for the same. 

" Note. — My son, William Franklin, is empowered 
to enter into like contracts with any person in Cum- 
berland County. B. Franklin." 

" To the Inhabitants of the Counties of Lancaster, York, 
and Cumberland, 

"Friends and Countrymen, 

"Being occasionally at the camp at Frederic a few 
days since, I found the general and officers extremely 
exasperated on account of their not being supplied 
with horses and carriages, which had been expected 
from this province, as most able to furnish them ; but, 
through the dissensions between our Governor and 
Assembly, money had not been provided, nor any steps 
taken for that purpose. 

"It was proposed to send an armed force immedi- 
ately into these counties, to seize as many of the best 

vol. i. 24 p * 

186 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

carriages and horses as should be wanted, and compel 
as many persons into the service as would be neces- 
sary to drive and take care of them. 

" I apprehended, that the progress of British soldiers 
through these counties on such an occasion, especially 
considering the temper they are in, and their resent- 
ment against us, would be attended with many and 
great inconveniences to the inhabitants, and therefore 
more willingly took the trouble of trying first w T hat 
might be done by fair and equitable means. The peo- 
ple of these back counties have lately complained to the 
Assembly, that a sufficient currency was wanting ; you 
have an opportunity of receiving and dividing among 
you a very considerable sum ; for, if the service of this 
expedition should continue, as it is more than probable 
it will for one hundred and twenty days, the hire of 
these wagons and horses will amount to upwards of 
thirty thousand pounds ; which will be paid you in 
silver and gold, of the King's money. 

"The service will be light and easy, for the army 
will scarce march above twelve miles per day, and 
the wagons and baggage horses, as they carry those 
things that are absolutely necessary to the welfare of 
the army, must march with the army, and no faster ; 
and are, for the army's sake, always placed where they 
can be most secure, whether in a march or in a camp. 

"If you are really, as I believe you are, good and 
loyal subjects to his Majesty, you may now do a most 
acceptable service, and make it easy to yourselves; 
for three or four of such as cannot separately spare 
from the business of their plantations, a wagon and 
four horses and a driver, may do it together; one 
furnishing the wagon, another one or two horses, and 
another the driver, and divide the pay proportionably 

Mt. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 187 

between you. But, if you do not this service to your 
King and country voluntarily, when such good pay 
and reasonable terms are offered to you, your loyalty 
will be strongly suspected. The King's business must 
be done ; so many brave troops, come so far for your 
defence, must not stand idle through your backward- 
ness to do what may be reasonably expected from 
you; wagons and horses must be had; violent meas- 
ures will probably be used ; and you will be left to seek 
for a recompense where you can find it, and your 
case perhaps be little pitied or regarded. 

"I have no particular interest in this affair, as, except 
the satisfaction of endeavouring to do good, I shall 
have only my labor for my pains. If this method of 
obtaining the wagons and horses is not likely to suc- 
ceed, I am obliged to send word to the general in 
fourteen days; and I suppose Sir John St. Clair, the 
hussar, with a body of soldiers, will immediately enter 
the province for the purpose; which I shall be sorry 
to hear, because I am very sincerely and truly your 
friend and well-wisher, 

"B. Franklin." 

I received of the General about eight hundred pounds, 
to be disbursed in advance money to the wagon 
owners ; but, that sum being insufficient, I advanced 
upwards of two hundred pounds more ; and in two 
weeks the one hundred and fifty wagons, with two 
hundred and fifty-nine carrying-horses were on their 
march for the camp. The advertisement promised 
payment according to the valuation, in case any wagons 
or horses should be lost. The owners, however, al- 
leging they did not know General Braddock, or what 
dependence might be had on his promise, insisted on 

188 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

my bond for the performance; which I accordingly 
gave them. 

While I was at the camp, supping one evening 
with the officers of Colonel Dunbar's regiment, he rep- 
resented to me his concern for the subalterns, who, he 
said, were generally not in affluence, and could ill 
afford in this dear country to lay in the stores that 
might be necessary in so long a march through a 
wilderness, where nothing was to be purchased. I 
commiserated their case, and resolved to endeavour 
procuring them some relief. I said nothing, however, 
to him of my intention, but wrote the next morning 
to the Committee of the Assembly, who had the dis- 
position of some public money, warmly recommending 
the case of these officers to their consideration, and 
proposing that a present should be sent them of neces- 
saries and refreshments. My son, who had some ex- 
perience of a camp life, and of its wants, drew up a 
list for me, which I enclosed in my letter. The com- 
mittee approved, and used such diligence, that, con- 
ducted by my son, the stores arrived at the camp as 
soon as the wagons. They consisted of twenty par- 
cels, each containing 

61bs. loaf sugar. 1 Gloucester cheese. 

6 do. Muscovado do. 1 keg containing 201bs. good butter. 

1 do. green tea. 2 dozen old Madeira wine. 

1 do. bohea do. 2 gallons Jamaica spirits. 

6 do. ground coffee. 1 bottle flour of mustard. 

6 do. chocolate. 2 well-cured hams. 

£ chest best white biscuit. £ dozen dried tongues. 

£lb. pepper. 61bs. rice. 

1 quart white vinegar. 61bs. raisins. 

These parcels, well packed, were placed on as many 
horses, each parcel, with the horse, being intended as 
a present for one officer. They were very thankfully 

jEt.49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 189 

received, and the kindness acknowledged by letters to 
me, from the colonels of both regiments, in the most 
grateful terms. The General too was highly satisfied 
with my conduct in procuring him the wagons, and 
readily paid my account of disbursements ; thanking me 
repeatedly, and requesting my further assistance in 
sending provisions after him. I undertook this also, 
and was busily employed in it till we heard of his 
defeat; advancing for the service, of my own money, 
upwards of one thousand pounds sterling ; of which I 
sent him an account. It came to his hands, luckily 
for me, a few days before the battle, and he returned me 
immediately an order on the paymaster for the round 
sum of one thousand pounds, leaving the remainder to 
the next account. I consider this payment as good 
luck, having never been able to obtain that remainder ; 
of which more hereafter. 

This General was, I think, a brave man, and might 
probably have made a figure as a good officer in 
some European war. But he had too much self- 
confidence, too high an opinion of the validity of regu- 
lar troops, and too mean a one of both Americans and 
Indians. George Croghan, our Indian interpreter, joined 
him on his march with one hundred of those people, 
who might have been of great use to his army as 
guides and scouts, if he had treated them kindly; 
but he slighted and neglected them, and they gradually 
left him. 

In conversation with him one day, he was giving 
me some account of his intended progress. "After 
taking Fort Duquesne," said he, "I am to proceed to 
Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the 
season will allow time, and I suppose it will; for 
Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four 

190 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

days ; and then I see nothing that can obstruct my 
march to Niagara." Having before revolved in my 
mind the long line his army must make in their march 
by a very narrow road, to be cut for them through the 
woods and bushes, and also what I had read of a 
former defeat of fifteen hundred French, who invaded 
the Illinois country, I had conceived some doubts and 
some fears for the event of the campaign. But I 
ventured only to say, "To be sure, Sir, if you arrive 
well before Duquesne, with .these fine troops, so well 
provided with artillery, the fort, though completely for- 
tified, and assisted with a very strong garrison, can 
probably make but a short resistance. The only dan- 
ger I apprehend of obstruction to your march, is 
from the ambuscades of the Indians, who, by constant 
practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them ; 
and the slender line, near four miles long, which your 
army must make, may expose it to be attacked by 
surprise in its flanks, and to be cut like a thread into 
several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come 
up in time to support each other." 

He smiled at my ignorance, and replied, "These 
savages may indeed be a formidable enemy to your 
raw American militia ; but upon the King's regular and 
disciplined troops, Sir, it is impossible they should 
make any impression." I was conscious of an impro- 
priety in my disputing with a military man in matters 
of his profession, and said no more. The enemy how- 
ever did not take the advantage of his army, which I 
apprehended its long line of march exposed it to, but 
let it advance without interruption till within nine miles 
of the place ; and then, when more in a body, (for it 
had just passed a river, where the front had halted 
till all were come over,) and in a more open part of 

Mt. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 191 

the woods than any it had passed, attacked its ad- 
vanced guard by a heavy fire from behind trees and 
bushes; which was the first intelligence the general 
had of an enemy's being near him. This guard being 
disordered, the general hurried the troops up to their 
assistance, which was done in great confusion through 
wagons, baggage, and cattle ; and presently the fire 
came upon their flank ; the officers being on horse- 
back were more easily distinguished, picked out as 
marks, and fell very fast ; and the soldiers were crowd- 
ed together in a huddle, having or hearing no orders, 
and standing to be shot at till two thirds of them 
were killed ; and then, being seized with a panic, the 
remainder fled with precipitation. 

The wagoners took each a horse out of his team 
and scampered ; their example was immediately fol- 
lowed by others; so that all the wagons, provisions, 
artillery, and stores were left to the enemy. The Gen- 
eral, being wounded, was brought off with difficulty; 
his secretary, Mr. Shirley, was killed by his side, and 
out of eighty-six officers sixty-three were killed or 
wounded ; and seven hundred and fourteen men killed 
of eleven hundred. These eleven hundred had been 
picked men from the whole army; the rest had been 
left behind with Colonel Dunbar, who was to follow 
with the heavier part of the stores, provisions, and 
baggage. The flyers, not being pursued, arrived at 
Dunbar's camp, and the panic they brought with them 
instantly seized him and all his people. And, though 
he had now above one thousand men, and the enemy 
who had beaten Braddock did not at most exceed 
four hundred Indians and French together, instead of 
proceeding, and endeavouring to recover some of the 
lost honor, he ordered all the stores, ammunition, &c, 

192 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

to be destroyed, that he might have more horses to 
assist his flight towards the settlements, and less lum- 
ber to remove. He was there met with requests from 
the governors of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, 
that he would post his troops on the frontiers, so as 
to afford some protection to the inhabitants ; but he 
continued his hasty march through all the country, 
not thinking himself safe till he arrived at Philadelphia, 
where the inhabitants could protect him. This whole 
transaction gave us Americans the first suspicion, that 
our exalted ideas of the prowess of British regular 
troops had not been well founded.* 

In their first march, too, from their landing till they 
got beyond the settlements, they had plundered and 
stripped the inhabitants, totally ruining some poor fam- 
ilies, besides insulting, abusing, and confining the peo- 
ple, if they remonstrated. This was enough to put us 
out of conceit of such defenders, if we had really 
wanted any. How different was the conduct of our 
French friends in 1781, who, during a march through 
the most inhabited part of our country, from Rhode 
Island to Virginia, near seven hundred miles, occa- 
sioned not the smallest complaint for the loss of a 
pig, a chicken, or even an apple. 

Captain Orme, who was one of the General's aids- 
de-camp, and, being grievously wounded, was brought 
off with him, and continued with him to his death, 
which happened in a few days, told me, that he was 
totally silent all the first day, and at night only said, 
"Who would have thought it?" That he was silent 
again the following day, saying only at last, " We shall 

* There are some errors in this account of Braddock's defeat. A full 
description of that event may be seen in Washington's Writings, Vol. II. 
p. 468. — Editor. 

Mt. 49.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 193 

better know how to deal with them another time;" 
and died in a few minutes after. 

The secretary's papers, with all the General's orders, 
instructions; and correspondence, falling into the ene- 
my's hands, they selected and translated into French a 
number of the articles, which they printed, to prove the 
hostile intentions of the British court before the decla- 
ration of war. Among these I saw some letters of the 
General to the ministry, speaking highly of the great 
service I had rendered the army, and recommending 
me to their notice.* David Hume, who was some 
years after secretary to Lord Hertford, when minister 
in France, and afterwards to General Conway, when 
secretary of state, told me, he had seen among the pa- 
pers in that office letters from Braddock, highly recom- 
mending me. But, the expedition having been unfor- 
tunate, my service, it seems, was not thought of much 
value, for those recommendations were never of any 
use to me. 

As to rewards from himself, I asked only one, which 
.was, that he would give orders to his officers not to 
enlist any more of our bought servants, and that he 
would discharge such as had been already enlisted. 
This he readily granted, and several were accordingly 
returned to their masters, on my application. Dunbar, 
when the command devolved on him, was not so gen- 
erous. He being at Philadelphia, on his retreat, or 
rather flight, I applied to him for the discharge of 
the servants of three poor farmers of Lancaster County, 
that he had enlisted, reminding him of the late gen- 
eral's orders on that head. He promised me, that, if 
the masters would come to him at Trenton, where he 

* See Washington's Writings, Vol. II. p. 78. 
VOL. I. 25 Q 

194 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

should be in a few days on his march to New York, 
he would there deliver their men to them. They ac- 
cordingly were at the expense and trouble of going 
to Trenton, and there he refused to perform his prom- 
ise, to their great loss and disappointment. 

As soon as the loss of the wagons and horses was 
generally known, all the owners came upon me for 
the valuation which I had given bond to pay. Their 
demands gave me a great deal of trouble. I acquaint- 
ed them, that the money was ready in the paymas- 
ter's hands, but the order for paying it must first be 
obtained from General Shirley, and that I had applied 
for it; but, he being at a distance, an answer could 
not soon be received, and they must have patience. 
All this, however, was not sufficient to satisfy them, 
and some began to sue me. General Shirley at length 
relieved me from this terrible situation, by appointing 
commissioners to examine the claims, and ordering pay- 
ment. They amounted to near twenty thousand pounds, 
which to pay would have ruined me.* 

Before we had the news of this defeat, the two 
doctors Bond came to me with a subscription paper 
for raising money to defray the expense of a grand 
firework, which it was intended to exhibit at a re- 
joicing on receiving the news of our taking Fort Du- 
quesne. I looked grave, and said, it would, I thought, 
be time enough to prepare the rejoicing when we 
knew we should have occasion to rejoice. They 
seemed surprised that I did not immediately comply 
with their proposal. "Why the d — 1!" said one of 
them, "you surely don't suppose that the fort will 
not be taken?" "I don't know that it will not be 

* See General Shirley's letter, Vol. VII. p. 94. Also, p. 96. 

jEt.49.] life of franklin. 195 

taken ; but I know that the events of war are subject 
to great uncertainty." I gave them the reasons of my 
doubting; the subscription was dropped, and the pro- 
jectors thereby missed the mortification they would 
have undergone, if the firework had been prepared. 
Dr. Bond, on some other occasion afterwards, said, that 
he did not like Franklin's forebodings.* 

* At this time, in conjunction with several other gentlemen, Franklin 
was actively engaged in carrying into effect a benevolent plan for im- 
proving the condition of the German population in America. At his 
press was printed a tract entitled, " A Brief History of the Rise and 
Progress of the Charitable Scheme, carrying on by a Society of Noble- 
men and Gentlemen in London, for the Relief and Instruction of poor 
Germans and their Descendants in Pennsylvania and the adjacent Col- 
onies in North America. Published by Order of the Trustees appointed 
for the Management of the said Charitable Scheme. Philadelphia; 
1755." The Trustees were James Hamilton, William Allen, Richard 
Peters, Benjamin Franklin, Conrad Weiser, and William Smith. The 
objects in view were to provide missionaries and teachers of schools, and 
to render such relief as particular cases might require. For an interest- 
ing letter on the condition of the Germans in Pennsylvania,, see Vol. 
VII. p. 66. — Editor. 

196 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 


Appointed One of the Commissioners for appropriating the public Money 
for military Defence. — Proposes a Militia Bill, which passes the Assem- 
bly. — Commissioned to take Charge of the Frontier, and build a Line 
of Forts. — Marches at the Head of a Body of Troops. — Account of 
the March. — Operations at Gnadenhutten. — Indian Massacres. — Mo- 
ravians at Bethlehem. — Returns to Philadelphia. — Chosen Colonel of 
a Regiment. — Journey to Virginia. — Declines accepting the Gover- 
nor's Proposal to lead an Expedition against Fort Duquesne. — Ac- 
count of his Electrical Discoveries. — Chosen a Member of the Royal 
Society. — Receives the Copley Medal. 

Governor Morris, who had continually worried 
the Assembly with message after message before the 
defeat of Braddock, to beat them into the making of 
acts to raise money for the defence of the province, 
without taxing among others the proprietary estates, 
and had rejected all their bills for not having such an 
exempting clause, now redoubled his attacks with more 
hope of success, the danger and necessity being greater. 
The Assembly however continued firm, believing they 
had justice on their side, and that it would be giving 
up an essential right, if they suffered the Governor to 
amend their money bills. In one of the last, indeed, 
which was for granting fifty thousand pounds, his pro- 
posed amendment was only of a single word. The 
bill expressed, " that all estates real and personal were 
to be taxed ; those of the proprietaries not excepted." 
His amendment was ; for not read only. A small, but 
very material alteration. However, when the news of 
the disaster reached England, our friends there, whom 
we had taken care to furnish with all the Assembly's 
answers to the Governor's messages, - raised a clamor 
against the Proprietaries for their meanness and injus- 
tice in giving their governor such instructions ; some 

jEt.49.] life of franklin. 197 

going so far as to say, that, by obstructing the defence 
of their province, they forfeited their right to it. They 
were intimidated by this; and sent orders to their 
receiver-general to add five thousand pounds of their 
money to whatever sum might be given by the As- 
sembly for such purpose. 

This, being testified to the House, was accepted in 
lieu of their share of a general tax, and a new bill 
was formed with an exempting clause, which passed 
accordingly. By this act I was appointed one of the 
commissioners for disposing of the money, sixty thou- 
sand pounds. I had been active in modelling the bill, 
and procuring its passage; and had at the same time 
drawn one for establishing and disciplining a voluntary 
militia; which I carried through the House without 
much difficulty, as care was taken in it to leave the 
Quakers at liberty. To promote the association neces- 
sary to form the militia, I wrote a Dialogue stating and 
answering all the objections I could think of to such 
a militia; which was printed, and had, as I thought, 
great effect.* 

While the several companies in the city and country 
were forming, and learning their exercise, the Governor 
prevailed with me to take charge of our North-western 
frontier, which was infested by the enemy, and provide 
for the defence of the inhabitants by raising troops 
and building a line of forts. I undertook this military 
business, though I did not conceive myself well qual- 
ified for it. He gave me a commission with full pow- 
ers, and a parcel of blank commissions for officers, to 
be given to whom I thought fit. I had but little dif- 
ficulty in raising men, having soon five hundred and 
sixty under my command. My son, who had in the 

* See Vol. III. pp. 78, 84. 

198 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1755. 

preceding war been an officer in the army raised 
against Canada, was my aid-de-camp, and of great use 
to me. The Indians had burned Gnadenhutten, a vil- 
lage settled by the Moravians, and massacred the in- 
habitants ; but the place was thought a good situation 
for one of the forts. 

In order to march thither, I assembled the compa- 
nies at Bethlehem, the chief establishment of these peo- 
ple. I was surprised to find it in so good a posture 
of defence ; the destruction of Gnadenhutten had made 
them apprehend danger. The principal buildings were 
defended by a stockade ; they had purchased a quan- 
tity of arms and ammunition from New York, and had 
even placed quantities of small paving stones between 
the windows of their high stone houses, for their women 
to throw them down upon the heads of any Indians, 
that should attempt to force into them. The armed 
brethren too kept watch, and relieved each other on 
guard, as methodically as in any garrison town. In 
conversation with the Bishop, Spangenberg, I mention- 
ed my surprise ; for, knowing they had obtained an act 
of Parliament exempting them from military duties in 
the colonies, I had supposed they were conscientiously 
scrupulous of bearing arms. He answered me, that it 
was not one of their established principles; but that, 
at the time of their obtaining that act, it was thought 
to be a principle with many of their people. On this 
occasion, however, they to their surprise found it adopt- 
ed by but a few. It seems they were either deceived 
in themselves, or deceived the Parliament ; but com- 
mon sense, aided by present danger, will sometimes be 
too strong for whimsical opinions. 

It was the beginning of January when we set out 
upon this business of building forts. I sent one de- 
tachment towards the Minisink, with instructions to 

Mr. 50.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 199 

erect one for the security of that upper part of the 
country ; and another to the lower part, with similar in- 
structions ; and I concluded to go myself with the rest 
of my force to Gnadenhutten, where a fort was thought 
more immediately, necessary. The Moravians procured 
me five wagons for our tools, stores, and baggage. 

Just before we left Bethlehem, eleven farmers, whc 
had been driven from their plantations by the Indians, 
came to me requesting a supply of firearms, that they 
might go back and bring off their cattle. I gave them 
each a gun with suitable ammunition. We had not 
marched many miles, before it began to rain, and it 
continued raining all day; there were no habitations 
on the road to shelter us, till we arrived near night 
at the house of a German, where, and in his barn, we 
were all huddled together as wet as water could make 
us. It was well we were not attacked in our march, 
for our arms were of the most ordinary sort, and our 
men could not keep the locks of their guns dry. 
The Indians are dexterous in contrivances for that 
purpose, which we had not. They met that day the 
eleven poor farmers above mentioned, and killed ten 
of them. The one that escaped informed us, that his 
and his companions' guns would not go off, the priming 
being wet with the rain. 

The next day being fair, we continued our march, 
and arrived at the desolated Gnadenhutten. There 
was a mill near, round which w T ere left several pine 
boards, with which we soon hutted ourselves ; an op- 
eration the more necessary at that inclement season, as 
we had no tents. Our first work was to bury more 
effectually the dead we found there, who had been half- 
interred by the country people. 

The next morning our fort was planned and marked 
out, the circumference measuring four hundred and 

200 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1756. 

fifty-five feet, which would require as many palisades to 
be made, one with another, of a foot diameter each. 
Our axes, of which we had seventy, were immediately 
set to work to cut down trees ; and, our men being 
dexterous in the use of them, great despatch was mad§, 
Seeing the trees fall so fast, I had the curiosity to 
look at my watch when two men began to cut at a 
pine; in six minutes they had it upon the ground, 
and I found it of fourteen inches diameter. Each pine 
made three palisades of eighteen feet long, pointed at 
one end. While these were preparing, our other men 
dug a trench all round, of three feet deep, in which 
the palisades were to be planted ; and, the bodies be- 
ing taken off our wagons, and the fore and hind wiieels 
separated by taking out the pin which united the two 
parts of the perch, we had ten carriages, with two 
horses each, to bring the palisades from the woods to 
the spot. When they were set up, our carpenters 
built a platform of boards all round within, about six 
feet high, for the men to stand on when to fire through 
the loopholes. We had one swivel gun, which we 
mounted on one of the angles, and fired it as soon as 
fixed, to let the Indians know, if any were within 
hearing, that we had such pieces; and thus our fort, 
if that name may be given to so miserable a stockade, 
was finished in a week, though it rained so hard every 
other day, that the men could not work. 

This gave me occasion to observe, that, when men 
are employed, they are best contented ; for on the days 
they worked they were good-natured and cheerful, 
and, with the consciousness of having done a good 
day's work, they spent the evening jollily ; but on our 
idle days they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding 
fault with the pork, the bread, &c, and were continu- 
ally in bad humor; which put me in mind of a sea 

^t. 50.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 201 

captain, whose rule it was to keep his men constantly 
at work ; and, when his mate once told him, that they 
had done every thing, and there was nothing further to 
employ them about : " 0," said he, " make them scour 
the anchor." 

This kind of fort, however contemptible, is a suf- 
ficient defence against Indians, who have no cannon, 
Finding ourselves now posted securely, and having a 
place to retreat to on occasion, we ventured out in 
parties to scour the adjacent country. We met with 
no Indians, but we found the places on the neighbour- 
ing hills, where they had lain to watch our proceed- 
ings. There was an art in their contrivance of those 
places, that seems worth mentioning. It being winter, 
a fire was necessary for them ; but a common fire on 
the surface of the ground would by its light have dis- 
covered their position at a distance. They had there- 
fore dug holes in the ground about three feet diam- 
eter, and somewhat deeper ; we found where they had 
with their hatchets cut off the charcoal from the sides 
of burnt logs lying in the woods. With these coals 
they had made small fires in the bottom of the holes, 
and we observed among the weeds and grass the prints 
of their bodies, made by their lying all round with their 
legs hanging down in the holes to keep their feet 
warm ; which with them is an essential point. This 
kind of fire so managed could not discover them either 
by its light, flame, sparks, or even smoke ; it appeared 
that the number was not great, and it seems they saw 
we were too many to be attacked by them with prospect 
of advantage. 

We had for our chaplain a zealous Presbyterian 
minister, Mr. Beatty, who complained to me, that the 
men did not generally attend his prayers and exhorta- 
tions. When they enlisted they were promised, besides 

vol. i. 26 

202 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1756. 

pay and provisions, a gill of rum a day, which was 
punctually served out to them, half in the morning, and 
the other half in the evening ; and I observed they 
were punctual in attending to receive it ; upon which 
I said to Mr. Beatty, " It is perhaps below the dignity 
of your profession to act as steward of the rum ; but 
if you were only to distribute it out after prayers, you 
would have them all about you." He liked the thought, 
undertook the task, and, with the help of a few hands 
to measure out the liquor, . executed it to satisfaction ; 
and never were prayers more generally and more punc- 
tually attended. So that I think this method prefer- 
able to the punishment inflicted by some military laws 
for non-attendance on divine service.* 

I had hardly finished this business, and got my fort 
well stored with provisions, when I received a letter 
from the Governor, acquainting me, that he had called 
the Assembly, and wished my attendance there, if the 
posture of affairs on the frontiers was such that my 
remaining there was no longer necessary. My friends 
too of the Assembly pressing me by their letters to 
be, if possible, at the meeting ; and, my three intended 
forts being now completed, and the inhabitants con- 
tented to remain on their farms under that protection, 
I resolved to return ; the more willingly, as a New 
England officer, Colonel Clapham, experienced in In- 
dian war, being on a visit to our establishment, con- 
sented to accept the command. I gave him a commis- 
sion, and, parading the garrison, had it read before them ; 
and introduced him to them as an officer, who, from 
his skill in military affairs, was much more fit to com- 
mand them than myself; and, giving them a little ex- 

* For other particulars respecting these military transactions, see Vol. 
VII. pp. 101-112. 

Mr. 50.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 203 

hortation, took my leave. I was escorted as far as 
Bethlehem, where I rested a few days to recover from 
the fatigue I had undergone. The first night, lying in 
a good bed, I could hardly sleep, it was so different 
from my hard lodging on the floor of a hut at Gnaden- 
hutten, with only a blanket or two. 

While at Bethlehem, I inquired a little into the prac- 
tices of the Moravians ; some of them had accompanied 
me, and all were very kind to me. I found they 
worked for a common stock, ate at common tables, 
and slept in common dormitories, great numbers to- 
gether. In the dormitories I observed loopholes, at 
certain distances all along just under the ceiling, which 
I thought judiciously placed for change of air. I Went 
to their church, where I was entertained with good 
music, the organ being accompanied with violins, haut- 
boys, flutes, clarinets, &c. I understood their sermons 
were not usually preached to mixed congregations of 
men, women, and children, as is our common practice; 
but that they assembled sometimes the married men, 
at other times their wives, then the young men, the 
young women, and the little children ; each division by 
itself. The sermon I heard was to the latter, who 
came in and were placed in rows on benches ; the 
boys under the conduct of a young man, their tutor, 
and the girls conducted by a young woman. The 
discourse seemed well adapted to their capacities, and 
was delivered in a pleasing, familiar manner, coaxing 
them, as it were, to be good. They behaved very 
orderly, but looked pale and unhealthy ; which made 
me suspect they were kept too much within doors, or 
not allowed sufficient exercise. 

I inquired concerning the Moravian marriages, wheth- 
er the report was true, that they were by lot. I was 
told, that lots were used only in particular cases ; that 

204 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1756. 

generally, when a young man found himself disposed 
to marry, he informed the elders of his class, who 
consulted the elder ladies, that governed the young 
women. As these elders of the different sexes were 
well acquainted with the tempers and dispositions of 
their respective pupils, they could best judge what 
matches were suitable, and their judgments were gen- 
erally acquiesced in. But if, for example, it should hap- 
pen, that two or three young women were found to 
be equally proper for the _ young man, the lot was 
then recurred to. I objected, if the matches are not 
made by the mutual choice of the parties, some of 
them may chance to be very unhappy. " And so they 
may," answered my informer, "if you let the parties 
choose for themselves." Which indeed I could not 

Being returned to Philadelphia, I found the Associa- 
tion went on with great success. The inhabitants that 
were not Quakers, having pretty generally come into 
it, formed themselves into companies, and chose their 
captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, according to the new 
law. Dr. Bond visited me, and gave me an account 
of the pains he had taken to spread a general good 
liking to the law, and ascribed much to those en- 
deavours. I had the vanity to ascribe all to my Di- 
alogue ; however, not knowing but that he might be 
in the right, I let him enjoy his opinion ; which I take 
to be generally the best way in such cases. The 
officers, meeting, chose me to be colonel of the regi- 
ment, which I this time accepted. I forget how many 
companies we had, but we paraded about twelve hun- 
dred well-looking men, with a company of artillery, 
who had been furnished with six brass fieldpieces, 
which they had become so expert in the use of, as to 
fire twelve times in a minute. The first time I re- 

Mr. 50.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 205 

viewed my regiment, they accompanied me to my 
house, and would salute me with some rounds fired 
before my door, which shook down and broke several 
glasses of my electrical apparatus. And my new hon- 
or proved not much less brittle ; for all our commis- 
sions were soon after broken, by a repeal of the law 
in England.* 

During this short time of my colon elship, being about 
to set out on a journey to Virginia, the officers of my 
regiment took it into their heads, that it would be 

* The following account of these transactions was published in the 
Pennsylvania Gazette, March 25th, 1756. 

" On Thursday last the Philadelphia regiment, consisting of upwards 
of one thousand able-bodied, effective men, besides officers, was drawn 
up under arms, on Society Hill, and reviewed by the Colonel. Each 
company met in the morning at the houses of their respective captains, 
and marched down Second Street till they came near the New Market ; 
where the first company halted, drew up in platoons, and waited till the 
second company came up ; and then each platoon of the first company 
fired retreating, according to the manner of street-firing; and the second 
company at the same time advanced, and fired in like manner, till they 
got possession of the other's ground. The third company then advanced, 
disputed and took the ground from the second ; and so on, each com- 
pany advancing and retreating in their turns ; the artillery company, con- 
sisting of upwards of one hundred men, with four neatly painted cannon, 
drawn by some of the largest and most stately horses in the Province, 
being the company that last took possession of the ground. The whole 
were then drawn up in battalion, according to seniority ; and, after being 
reviewed, and performing the manual exercise, marched through the 
town in three grand divisions. 

" When the regiment came opposite to the Colonel's door, they were 
again drawn up in battalion, and made one general discharge of small 
arms, and several discharges of cannon. Then the several companies 
marched off to their respective places of rendezvous, and saluted their 
captains, on being dismissed, with a discharge of their firearms. The 
whole was conducted with the greatest order and regularity, and, not- 
withstanding the vast concourse of people, not the least accident hap- 
pened to any one. It is allowed, on all hands, that most of the platoon 
firings, the general fire of the regiment, and the discharge of the artillery, 
were nearly as well performed as they could be by any troops whatever. 
And it is likewise agreed, that so grand an appearance was never be- 
fore seen in Pennsylvania." — Editor. 

VOL. I. R 

206 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1756. 

proper for them to escort me out of town, as far as 
the Lower Ferry. Just as I was getting on horse- 
back they came to my door, between thirty and forty, 
mounted, and all in their uniforms. I had not been 
previously acquainted with their project, or I should 
have prevented it, being naturally averse to the assum- 
ing of state on any occasion ; and I was a good deal 
chagrined at their appearance, as I could not avoid 
their accompanying me. What made it worse was, 
that, as soon as we began to move, they drew their 
swords and rode with them naked all the way. Some- 
body wrote an account of this to the Proprietor, and 
it gave him great offence. No such honor had been 
paid to him, when in the province ; nor to any of his 
governors ; and he said, it was only proper to princes 
of the blood royal; which may be true for aught I 
know, who was, and still am, ignorant of the etiquette 
in such cases. 

This silly affair, however, greatly increased his rancor 
against me, which was before considerable on account 
of my conduct in the Assembly respecting the ex- 
emption of his estate from taxation, which I had always 
opposed very warmly, and not without severe reflec- 
tions on the meanness and injustice of contending for 
it. He accused me to the ministry, as being the great 
obstacle to the King's service, preventing by my in- 
fluence in the House the proper form of the bills for 
raising money; and he instanced the parade with my 
officers, as a proof of my having an intention to take 
the government of the province out of his hands by 
force. He also applied to Sir Everard Fawkener, the 
Postmaster-general, to deprive me of my office. But 
it had no other effect than to procure from Sir Ever- 
ard a gentle admonition. 

Notwithstanding the continual wrangle between the 

jEt. 50.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 207 

Governor and the House, in which I as a member had 
so large a share, there still subsisted a civil intercourse 
between that gentleman and myself, and we never 
had any personal difference. I have sometimes since 
thought, that his little or no resentment against me, for 
the answers it was known I drew up to his messages, 
might be the effect of professional habit, and that, be- 
ing bred a lawyer, he might consider us both as mere- 
ly advocates for contending clients in a suit; he for 
the Proprietaries, and I for the Assembly. He would 
therefore sometimes call in a friendly way to advise 
with me on difficult points ; and sometimes, though not 
often, take my advice. 

We acted in concert to supply Braddock's army 
with provisions ; and, when the shocking news arrived 
of his defeat, the Governor sent in haste for me, to 
consult with him on measures for preventing the de- 
sertion of the back counties. I forget now the advice 
I gave; but I think it was, that Dunbar should be 
written to, and prevailed with, if possible, to post his 
troops on the frontiers for their protection, until, by 
reinforcements from the colonies, he might be able to 
proceed in the expedition. And, after my return from 
the frontier, he would have had me undertake the 
conduct of such an expedition with provincial troops, 
for the reduction of Fort Duquesne, Dunbar and his 
men being otherwise employed ; and he proposed to 
commission me as general. I had not so good an 
opinion of my military abilities as he professed to have, 
and I believe his professions must have exceeded his 
real sentiments ; but probably he might think, that my 
popularity would facilitate the business with the men, 
and influence in the Assembly the grant of money to 
pay for it ; and that perhaps without taxing the Pro- 
prietary. Finding me not so forward to engage as he 


expected, the project was dropped ; and he soon after 
left the government, being superseded by Captain 

Before I proceed in relating the part I had in pub- 
lic affairs under this new governor's administration, it 
may not be amiss to give here some account of the 
rise and progress of my philosophical reputation. 

In 1746, being in Boston, I met there with a Dr. 
Spence, who was lately arrived from Scotland, and 
showed me some electric - experiments. They were 
imperfectly performed, as he was not very expert ; but, 
being on a subject quite new to me, they equally 
surprised and pleased me. Soon after my return to 
Philadelphia, our library company received from Mr. 
Peter Collinson, Fellow of the Royal Society of Lon- 
don, a present of a glass tube, with some account of 
the use of it in making such experiments. I eagerly 
seized the opportunity of repeating what I had seen 
at Boston ; and, by much practice, acquired great readi- 
ness in performing those also, which we had an ac- 
count of from England, adding a number of new ones. 
I say much practice, for my house was continually 
full, for some time, with persons who came to see these 
new wonders. 

To divide a little this incumbrance among my friends, 
I caused a number of similar tubes to be blown in our 
glasshouse, with which they furnished themselves, so 
that we had at length several performers. Among 
these the principal was Mr. Kinnersley, an ingenious 
neighbour, who being out of business, I encouraged 
him to undertake showing the experiments for money, 
and drew up for him two lectures, in which the ex- 
periments were ranged in such order, and accom- 
panied with explanations in such method, as that the 
foregoing should assist in comprehending the follow- 


mg. He procured an elegant apparatus for the purpose, 
in which all the little machines that I had roughly made 
for myself were neatly formed by instrument makers. 
His lectures were well attended, and gave great satis- 
faction ; and after some time he went through the col- 
onies, exhibiting them in every capital town, and picked 
up some money. In the West India Islands, indeed, 
it was with difficulty the experiments could be made, 
from the general moisture of the air. 

Obliged as we were to Mr. Collinson for the present 
of the tube, &c, I thought it right he should be in- 
formed of our success in using it, and wrote him sev- 
eral letters containing accounts of our experiments.* 
He got them read in the Royal Society, where they 
were not at first thought worth so much notice as to 
be printed in their Transactions. One paper, which I 
wrote for Mr. Kinnersley, on the sameness of lightning 
with electricity, I sent to Mr. Mitchel, an acquaintance 
of mine, and one of the members also of that Society ; 
who wrote me word, that it had been read, but was 
laughed at by the connoisseurs. The papers, however, 
being shown to Dr. Fothergill, he thought them of too 
much value to be stifled, and advised the printing 
of them. Mr. Collinson then gave them to Cave for 
publication in his Gentleman 9 s Magazine ; but he chose 
to print them separately in a pamphlet, and Dr. Foth- 
ergill wrote the preface. Cave, it seems, judged rightly 
for his profession, for by the additions, that arrived af- 
terwards, they swelled to a quarto volume ; which has 
had five editions, and cost him nothing for copy-money. 

It was however some time before those papers were 
much taken notice of in England. A copy of them 
happening to fall into the hands of the Count de Buf- 

* See Vol. V. p. 180. 

vol. i. No. 5. 27 - ' r* 


fon, a philosopher deservedly of great reputation in 
France, and indeed all over Europe, he prevailed with 
M. Dubourg to translate them into French ; and they 
were printed at Paris. The publication offended the 
Abbe Nollet, Preceptor in Natural Philosophy to the 
Royal Family, and an able experimenter, who had 
formed and published a theory of electricity, which 
then had the general vogue. He could not at first 
believe, that such a work came from America, and said 
it must have been fabricated by his enemies at Paris, 
to oppose his system. Afterwards, having been assured, 
that there really existed such a person as Franklin at 
Philadelphia, which he had doubted, he wrote and pub- 
lished a volume of Letters, chiefly addressed to me, de- 
fending his theory, and denying the verity of my ex- 
periments, and of the positions deduced from them. 

I once purposed answering the Abbe, and actually 
began the answer; but, on consideration that my writ- 
ings contained a description of experiments, which any 
one might repeat and verify, and, if not to be verified, 
could not be defended ; or of observations offered as 
conjectures, and not delivered dogmatically, therefore 
not laying me under any obligation to defend them ; 
and reflecting, that a dispute between two persons, 
written in different languages, might be lengthened 
greatly by mistranslations, and thence misconceptions 
of one another's meaning, much of one of the Abbe's 
letters being founded on an error in the translation, 
I concluded to let my papers shift for themselves ; be- 
lieving it was better to spend what time I could spare 
from public business in making new experiments, than 
in disputing about those already made. I therefore 
never answered M. Nollet ; and the event gave me no 
cause to repent my silence ; for my friend M. Le Roy, 
of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took up my cause 


and refuted him ; my book was translated into the 
Italian, German,, and Latin languages; and the doctrine 
it contained was by degrees generally adopted by the 
philosophers of Europe, in preference to that of the 
Abbe ; so that he lived to see himself the last of his 

sect, except Monsieur B , of Paris, his Sieve and 

immediate disciple. 

What gave my book the more sudden and general 
celebrity, was the success of one of its proposed ex- 
periments, made by Messieurs Dalibard and De Lor at 
Marly, for drawing lightning from the clouds. This 
engaged the public attention everywhere. M. De Lor, 
who had an apparatus for experimental philosophy, and 
lectured in that branch of science, undertook to repeat 
what he called the Philadelphia Experiments ; and, after 
they were performed before the King and court, all the 
curious of Paris flocked to see them. I will not swell 
this narrative with an account of that capital .experi- 
ment, nor of the infinite pleasure I received in the suc- 
cess of a similar one I made soon after with a kite at 
Philadelphia, as both are to be found in the histories 
of electricity. 

Dr. Wright, an English physician, when at Paris, 
wrote to a friend, who was of the Royal Society, an 
account of the high esteem my experiments were in 
among the learned abroad, and of their wonder, that 
my writings had been so little noticed in England. 
The Society on this resumed the consideration of the 
letters that had been read to them; and the celebrated 
Dr. Watson drew up a summary account of them, and 
of all I had afterwards sent to England on the sub- 
ject; which he accompanied with some praise of the 
writer.* This summary was then printed in their Trans- 

* See Vol. V. p. 487. 


actions; and, some members of the Society in London, 
particularly the very ingenious Mr. Canton, having veri- 
fied the experiment of procuring lightning from the 
clouds by a pointed rod, and acquainted them with the 
success, they soon made me more than amends for 
the slight with which they had before treated me. 
Without my having made any application for that honor, 
they chose me a member ; and voted, that I should be 
excused the customary payments, which would have 
amounted to twenty-five guineas ; and ever since have 
given me their Transactions gratis.* They also pre- 

* Dr. Franklin gives a further account of his election, in a letter to 
his son, Governor Franklin, from which the following is an extract. 

" London, 19 December, 1767. 

" We have had an ugly affair at the Royal Society lately. One Da- 
costa, a Jew, who, as our clerk, was intrusted with collecting our 
moneys, has been so unfaithful as to embezzle near thirteen hundred 
pounds in four years. Being one of the Council this year, as well as 
the last, I have been employed all the last week in attending the in- 
quiry into, and unravelling, his accounts, in order to come at a full knowl- 
edge of his frauds. His securities are bound in one thousand pounds 
to the Society, which they will pay, but we shall probably lose the rest. 
He had this year received twenty-six admission payments of twenty-five 
guineas each, which he did not bring to account. 

" While attending to this affair, I had an opportunity of looking over 
the old council-books and journals of the society, and, having a curiosity 
to see how I came in, of which I had never been informed, I looked 
back for the minutes relating to it. You must know, it is not usual to 
admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; and a recom- 
mendatory certificate in favor of the candidate, signed by at least three 
of the members, is by our rule to be presented to the Society, expressing 
that he is desirous of that honor, and is so and so qualified. As I 
never had asked or expected the honor, I was, as I said before, curious 
to see how the business was managed. I found that the certificate, 
worded very advantageously for me, was signed by Lord Macclesfield, 
then President, Lord Parker, and Lord Willoughby; that the election 
was by a unanimous vote ; and, the honor being voluntarily conferred by 
the Society, unsolicited by me, it was thought wrong to demand or re- 
ceive the usual fees or composition ; so that my name was entered on 
the list with a vote of council, that I was not to pay any thing. And 
accordingly nothing has ever been demanded of me. Those, who are 


sented me with the gold medal of Sir Godfrey Copley, 
for the year 1753, the delivery of which was accom- 
panied by a very handsome speech of the president, 
Lord Macclesfield, wherein I was highly honored.* 

admitted in the common way, pay five guineas admission fees, and 
two guineas and a half yearly contribution, or twenty-five guineas 
down, in lieu of it. In my case a substantial favor accompanied the 
honor." — W. T. F. 

* See this Speech, Vol. V. p. 499. 

214 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 


Conversations with Governor Denny. — Disputes between the Governor 
and Assembly. — Deputed by the Assembly to present a Petition to 
the King, and to act in England as an Agent for Pennsylvania. — 
Meets Lord Loudoun in New York. — Anecdotes illustrating his Char- 
acter. — Sails from New York. — Incidents of the Voyage. — Arrives 
in England. 

Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over 
for me the beforementioned medal from the Royal So- 
ciety, which he presented to me at an entertainment 
given him by the city. He accompanied it with very 
polite expressions of his esteem for me, having, as he 
said, been long acquainted with my character. After 
dinner, when the company, as was customary at that 
time, were engaged in drinking, he took me aside into 
another room, and acquainted me, that he had been 
advised by his friends in England to cultivate a friend- 
ship with me, as one who was capable of giving him 
the best advice, and of contributing most effectually 
to the making his administration easy. That he there- 
fore desired of all things to have a good understand- 
ing with me, and he begged me to be assured of his 
readiness on all occasions to render me every service 
that might be in his power. He said much to me 
also of the Proprietor's good disposition towards the 
province, and of the advantage it would be to us all, 
and to me in particular, if the opposition that had 
been so long continued to his measures was dropped, 
and harmony restored between him and the peo- 
ple; in effecting which it was thought no one could 
be more serviceable than myself; and I might de- 
pend on adequate acknowledgments and recompenses. 
The drinkers, finding we did not return immediately 

jEt. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 215 

to the table, sent us a decanter of madeira, which the 
Governor made a liberal use of, and in proportion be- 
came more profuse of his solicitations and promises. 

My answers were to this purpose ; that my circum- 
stances, thanks to God, were such as to make propri- 
etary favors unnecessary to me; and that, being a 
member of the Assembly, I could not possibly accept 
of any ; that, however, I had no personal enmity to the 
Proprietary, and that, whenever the public measures he 
proposed should appear to be for the good of the 
people, no one would espouse and forward them more 
zealously than myself; my past opposition having been 
founded on this, that the measures which had been 
urged were evidently intended to serve the proprieta- 
ry interest, with great prejudice to that of the people. 
That I was much obliged to him (the Governor) for his 
profession of regard to me, and that he might rely 
on every thing in my power to render his administra- 
tion as easy to him as possible, hoping at the same 
time that he had not brought with him the same un- 
fortunate instructions his predecessors had been ham- 
pered with. 

On this he did not then explain himself; but, when 
he afterwards came to do business with the Assembly, 
they appeared again, the disputes were renewed, and 
I was as active as ever in the opposition, being the 
penman, first of the request to have a communication 
of the instructions, and then of the remarks upon them, 
which may be found in the Votes of the times, and 
in the Historical Review I afterwards published.* But 
between us personally no enmity arose ; we were often 
together ; he was a man of letters, had seen much of 
the world, and was entertaining and pleasing in con- 

* See Vol. III. p. 107 ; VII. p. 208. 

216 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

versation. He gave me information, that my old friend 
Ralph was still alive; that he was esteemed one of 
the best political writers in England ; had been em- 
ployed in the dispute between Prince Frederic and the 
King, and had obtained a pension of three hundred 
pounds a year; that his reputation was indeed small 
as a poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the Dun- 
ciad ; but his prose was thought as good as any man's. 

The Assembly finally finding the Proprietary obsti- 
nately persisted in shackling the deputies with instruc- 
tions inconsistent not only with the privileges of the 
people, but with the service of the crown, resolved to 
petition the King against them, and appointed me their 
agent to go over to England, to present and support 
the petition. The House had sent up a bill to the 
Governor, granting a sum of sixty thousand pounds for 
the King's use, (ten thousand pounds of which was 
subjected to the orders of the then general, Lord Lou- 
doun,) which the Governor, in compliance with his in- 
structions, absolutely refused to pass. 

I had agreed with Captain Morris, of the packet at 
New York, for my passage, and my stores were put on 
board ; when Lord Loudoun arrived at Philadelphia, 
expressly as he told me, to endeavour an accommoda- 
tion between the Governor and Assembly, that his 
Majesty's service might not be obstructed by their dis- 
sensions. Accordingly he* desired the Governor and 
myself to meet him, that he might hear what was to 
be said on both sides. We met and discussed the 
business. In behalf of the Assembly, I urged the va- 
rious arguments, that may be found in the public pa- 
pers of that time, which were of my writing, and are 
printed with the minutes of the Assembly; and the 
Governor pleaded his instructions, the bond he had 
given to observe them, and his ruin if he disobeyed; 

Mr. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 217 

yet seemed not unwilling to hazard himself, if Lord 
Loudoun would advise it. This his Lordship did not 
choose to do, though I once thought I had nearly pre- 
vailed with him to do it; but finally he rather chose 
to urge the compliance of the Assembly; and he en- 
treated me to use my endeavours with them for that 
purpose, declaring that he would spare none of the 
King's troops for the defence of our frontiers, and that, 
if we did not continue to provide for that defence our- 
selves, they must remain exposed to the enemy. 

I acquainted the House with what had passed, and, 
presenting them with a set of resolutions I had drawn 
up, declaring our rights, that we did not relinquish our 
claim to those rights, but only suspended the exercise 
of them on this occasion, through force, against which 
we protested, they at length agreed to drop that bill, 
and frame another conformable to the proprietary in- 
structions. This of course the Governor passed, and I 
was then at liberty to proceed on my voyage. But 
in the mean time the packet had sailed with my sea- 
stores, which was some loss to me, and my only recom- 
pense was his Lordship's thanks for my service; all 
the credit of obtaining the accommodation falling to his 

He set out for New York before me ; and, as the 
time for despatching the packetboats was at his dis- 
position, and there were two then remaining there, one 
of which, he said, was to sail very soon, I requested 
to know the precise time, that I might not miss her 
by any delay of mine. The answer was; "I have 
given out that she is to sail on Saturday next; but I 
may let you know, entre nous, that if you are there by 
Monday morning, you will be in time, but do not de- 
lay longer." By some accidental hindrance at a ferry, 
it was Monday noon before I arrived, and I was much 

vol. i. 28 s 

218 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

afraid she might have sailed, as the wind was fair; 
but I was soon made easy by the information, that she 
was still in the harbour, and would not move till the 
next day. One would imagine, that I was now on 
the very point of departing for Europe. I thought so ; 
but I was not then so well acquainted with his Lord- 
ship's character, of which indecision was one of the 
strongest features. I shall give some instances. It was 
about the beginning of April, that I came to New York, 
and I think it was near .the end of June before we 
sailed. There were then two of the packetboats, which 
had been long in readiness, but were detained for the 
general's letters, which were always to be ready to- 
morrow. Another packet arrived ; she too was de- 
tained ; and, before we sailed, a fourth was expected. 
Ours was the first to be despatched, as having been 
there longest. Passengers were engaged for all, and 
some extremely impatient to be gone, and the mer- 
chants uneasy about their letters, and for the orders 
they had given for insurance, (it being war time,) and 
for autumnal goods; but their anxiety availed nothing; 
his Lordship's letters were not ready; and yet who- 
ever waited on him found him always at his desk, 
pen in hand, and concluded he must needs write 

Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I 
found in his antechamber one Innis, a messenger of 
Philadelphia, who had come thence express, with a 
packet from Governor Denny, for the general. He de 
livered to me some letters from my friends there, which 
occasioned my inquiring, when he was to return, and 
where he lodged, that I might send some letters by 
him. He told me, he was ordered to call to-morrow 
at nine for the general's answer to the Governor, and 
should set off immediately. I put my letters into his 

,£t.51.] life of franklin. 219 

hands the same day. A fortnight after I met him 
again in the same place. " So, you are soon returned, 
Innis ? " " Returned ! no, I am not gone yet." " How 
so?" "I have called here this and every morning 
these two weeks past for his Lordship's letters, and 
they are not yet ready." " Is it possible, when he is 
so great a writer ; for I see him constantly at his escri- 
toire?" "Yes," said Innis, "but he is like St. George, 
on the signs, always on horseback, and never rides on" 
This observation of the messenger was, it seems, well 
founded ; for, when in England, I understood that Mr. 
Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, gave it as one reason 
for removing this general, and sending Generals Am- 
herst and Wolfe, that the minister never heard from 
him, and could not know what he ivas doing. 

In this daily expectation of sailing, and all the three 
packets going down to Sandy Hook, to join the fleet 
there, the passengers thought it best to be on board, 
lest by a sudden order the ships should sail, and they 
be left behind. There, if I remember, we were about 
six weeks, consuming our sea-stores, and obliged to 
procure more. At length the fleet sailed, the general 
and all his army on board, bound to Louisburg, with 
intent to besiege and take that fortress; and all the 
packetboats in company were ordered to attend the 
general's ship ready to receive his despatches, when 
they should be ready. We were out five days before 
we got a letter with leave to part ; and then our ship 
quitted the fleet and steered for England. The other 
two packets he still detained, carried them with him 
to Halifax, where he stayed some time to exercise the 
men in sham attacks upon sham forts, then altered his 
mind as to besieging Louisburg, and returned to New 
York, with all his troops, together with the two packets 
above mentioned, and all their passengers! During 

220 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

his absence the French and savages had taken Fort 
George, on the frontier of that province, and the In- 
dians had massacred many of the garrison after capit- 

I saw afterwards in London, Captain Bound, who 
commanded one of those packets. He told me, that, 
when he had been detained a month, he acquainted 
his Lordship, that his ship was grown foul, to a degree 
that must necessarily hinder her fast sailing, a point of 
consequence for a packetboat, and requested an allow- 
ance of time to heave her down and clean her bottom. 
His Lordship asked how long time that would require. 
He answered, three days. The General replied, "If 
you can do it in one day, I give leave ; otherwise not ; 
for you must certainly sail the day after to-morrow." 
So he never obtained leave, though detained afterwards 
from day to day during full three months. 

I saw also in London one of BonelPs passengers, 
who was so enraged against his Lordship for deceiv- 
ing and detaining him so long at New York, and then 
carrying him to Halifax and back again, that he swore 
he would sue him for damages. Whether he did or 
not, I never heard ; but, as he represented it, the injury 
to his affairs was very considerable. 

On the whole, I wondered much how such a man 
came to be intrusted with so important a business, as 
the conduct of a great army; but, having since seen 
more of the great world, and the means of obtaining, 
and motives for giving, places and employments, my 
wonder is diminished. General Shirley, on whom the 
command of the army devolved, upon the death of 
Braddock, would, in my opinion, if continued in place, 
have made a much better campaign than that of Lou- 
doun, in 1756, which was frivolous, expensive, and dis- 
graceful to our nation beyond conception. For, though 

Mr. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 221 

Shirley was not bred a soldier, he was sensible and 
sagacious in himself, and attentive to good advice 
from others, capable of forming judicious plans, and 
quick and active in carrying them into execution, Lou- 
doun, instead of defending the colonies with his great 
army, left them totally exposed, while he paraded idly 
at Halifax, by which means Fort George was lost ; be- 
sides, he deranged all our mercantile operations, and, 
distressed our trade, by a long embargo on the ex- 
portation of provisions, on pretence of keeping supplies 
from being obtained by the enemy, but in reality for 
beating down their price in favor of the contractors, in 
whose profits, it was said, perhaps from suspicion only, 
he had a share; and, when at length the embargo 
was taken off, neglecting to send notice of it to Charles- 
ton, where the Carolina fleet was detained near three 
months; and whereby their bottoms were so much 
damaged by the worm, that a great part of them 
foundered in their passage home. 

Shirley was, I believe, sincerely glad of being relieved 
from so burdensome a charge, as the conduct of an 
army must be to a man unacquainted with military 
business. I was at the entertainment given by the 
city of New York to Lord Loudoun, on his taking 
upon him the command. Shirley, though thereby su- 
perseded, was present also. There was a great com- 
pany of officers, citizens, and strangers, and, some chairs 
having been borrowed in the neighbourhood, there was 
one among them very low, which fell to the lot of 
Mr. Shirley. I sat by him, and perceiving it, I said, 
" They have given you a very low seat." " No matter, 
Mr. Franklin," said he, " I find a low seat the easiest." 

While I was, as before mentioned, detained at New 
York, I received all the accounts of the provisions, 
&,c, that I had furnished to Braddock, some of which 

222 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

accounts could not sooner be obtained from the dif- 
ferent persons I had employed to assist in the busi- 
ness. I presented them to Lord Loudoun, desiring to 
be paid the balance. He caused them to be exam- 
ined by the proper officer, who, after comparing every 
article with its voucher, certified them to be right ; and 
his Lordship promised to give me an order on the 
paymaster for the balance due to me. This was, how- 
ever, put off from time to time; and, though I called 
often for it by appointment, I did not get it. At length, 
just before my departure, he told me he had, on bet- 
ter consideration, concluded not to mix his accounts 
with those of his predecessors. "And you," said he, 
" when in England, have only to exhibit your accounts 
to the treasury, and you will be paid immediately." 

I mentioned, but without effect, a great and unex- 
pected expense I had been put to by being detained 
so long at New York, as a reason for my desiring to 
be presently paid; and, on my observing, that it was 
not right I should be put to any further trouble or 
delay in obtaining the money I had advanced, as I 
charged no commission for my service, "0," said he, 
"you must not think of persuading us, that you are 
no gainer ; we understand better those matters, and 
know, that every one concerned in supplying the army 
finds means, in the doing it, to fill his own pockets." 
I assured him, that was not my case, and that I had 
not pocketed a farthing ; but he appeared clearly not 
to believe me ; and indeed I afterwards learned, that 
immense fortunes are often made in such employments. 
As to my balance, I am not paid it to this day; of 
w r hich more hereafter. 

Our captain of the packet boasted much, before we 
sailed, of the swiftness of his ship ; unfortunately, when 
we came to sea, she proved the dullest of ninety- six 

Mt. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 223 

sail, to his no small mortification. After many conjec- 
tures respecting the cause, when we were near another 
ship almost as dull as ours, which, however, gained upon 
us, the captain ordered all hands to come aft and stand 
as near the ensign staff as possible. We were, pas- 
sengers included, about forty persons. While we stood 
there, the ship mended her pace, and soon left her 
neighbour far behind, which proved clearly what our 
captain suspected, that she was loaded too much by 
the head. The casks of water, it seems, had been all 
placed forward ; these he therefore ordered to be moved 
further aft, on which the ship recovered her character, 
and proved the best sailer in the fleet. 

The captain said, she had once gone at the rate of 
thirteen knots, which is accounted thirteen miles per 
hour. We had on board, as a passenger, Captain 
Archibald Kennedy, of the Royal Navy, who contended 
that it was impossible, and that no ship ever sailed 
so fast, and that there must have been some error in 
the division of the log-line, or some mistake in heav- 
ing the log. A wager ensued between the two cap- 
tains, to be decided when there should be sufficient 
wind. Kennedy therefore examined the log-line, and 
being satisfied with it, he determined to throw the 
log himself. Some days after, when the wind was 
very fair and fresh, and the captain of the packet, Lut- 
widge, said he believed she then went at the rate of 
thirteen knots, Kennedy made the experiment, and 
owned his wager lost. 

The foregoing fact I give for the sake of the fol- 
lowing observation. It has been remarked, as an im- 
perfection in the art of ship-building, that it can never 
be known till she is tried, whether a new ship will, 
or will not, be a good sailer ; for that the model of a 
good -sailing ship has been exactly followed in a new 

224 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757 

one, which has been proved on the contrary remark- 
ably dull. I apprehend, that this may partly be occa- 
sioned by the different opinions of seamen respecting 
the modes of loading, rigging, and sailing of a ship ; 
each has his method; and the same vessel, laden by 
the method and orders of one captain, shall sail worse 
than when by the orders of another. Besides, it scarce 
ever happens, that a ship is formed, fitted for the sea, 
and sailed by the same person. One man builds the 
hull, another rigs her, a third loads and sails her. No 
one of these has the advantage of knowing all the 
ideas and experience of the others, and therefore can- 
not draw just conclusions from a combination of the 

Even in the simple operation of sailing when at sea, 
I have often observed different judgments in the of- 
ficers, who commanded the successive watches, the 
wind being the same. One would have the sails trim- 
med sharper or flatter than another, so that they seem- 
ed to have no certain rule to govern by. Yet I think 
a set of experiments might be instituted, first to de- 
termine the most proper form of the hull for swift 
sailing ; next the best dimensions and most proper place 
for the masts ; then the form and quantity of sails, and 
their position, as the winds may be ; and lastly, the 
disposition of the lading. This is an age of experi- 
ments, and I think a set accurately made and com- 
bined would be of great use. 

We were several times chased in our passage, but 
outsailed every thing; and in thirty days had sound- 
ings. We had a good observation, and the captain 
judged himself so near our port, Falmouth, that, if we 
made a good run in the night, we might be off the 
mouth of that harbour in the morning ; and by running 
in the night might escape the notice of the enemy's 

^t. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 225 

privateers, who often cruised near the entrance of the 
Channel. Accordingly all the sail was set that we could 
possibly carry, and the wind being very fresh and 
fair, we stood right before it, and made great way. 
The captain, after his observation, shaped his course, 
as he thought, so as to pass wide of the Scilly Rocks; 
but it seems there is sometimes a strong current set- 
ting up St. George's Channel, which formerly caused 
the loss of Sir Cloudesley Shovel's squadron, in 1707. 
This was probably also the cause of what happened 
to us. 

We had a watchman placed in the bow, to whom 
they often called, " Look well out before there ;" and he 
as often answered, "»%, ay;" but perhaps had his 
eyes shut, and was half asleep, at the time ; they some- 
times answering, as is said, mechanically ; for he did 
not see a light just before us, which had been hid by 
the studding-sails from the man at the helm, and from 
the rest of the watch, but by an accidental yaw of the 
ship was discovered, and occasioned a great alarm, we 
being very near it ; the light appearing to me as large 
as a cart-wheel. It was midnight, and our captain 
fast asleep ; but Captain Kennedy, jumping upon deck, 
and seeing the danger, ordered the ship to wear round, 
all sails standing ; an operation dangerous to the masts, 
but it carried us clear, and we avoided shipwreck, for 
we were running fast on the rocks on which the light 
was erected. This deliverance impressed me strongly 
with the utility of lighthouses, and made me resolve 
to encourage the building some of them in America, if 
I should live to return thither. 

In the morning it was found by the soundings, that 
w r e were near our port, but a thick fog hid the land 
from our sight. About nine o'clock the fog began to 
rise, and seemed to be lifted up from the water like 

vol. i. 29 

226 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

the curtain of a theatre, discovering underneath the 
town of Falmouth, the vessels in the harbour, and the 
fields that surround it. This was a pleasing spectacle 
to those, who had been long without any other pros- 
pect than the uniform view of a vacant ocean, and it 
gave us the more pleasure, as we were now free from 
the anxieties which had arisen.* 

I set out immediately, with my son, for London, 
and we only stopped a little by the way to view Stone - 
henge on Salisbury Plain, and Lord Pembroke's house 
and gardens, with the very curious antiquities at Wil- 
ton. We arrived in London, the 27th of July, 1757.f 

* In a letter from Dr. Franklin to his wife, dated at Falmouth, the 17th 
of July, 1757, after giving her a similar account of his voyage, escape, 
and landing, he adds ; " The bell ringing for church, we went thither 
immediately, and, with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks 
to God for the mercies we had received. Were I a Roman Catholic, 
perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint ; 
but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a light- 
house."— W.T.F. 

f Here close Dr. Franklin's Memoirs, as written by himself. From 
several passages in his letters it would seem, that it was his intention 
to continue them further, and perhaps to the end of his life ) but public 
business for some time, and afterwards his declining health, prevented 
him from executing his purpose. — Editor. 






Engrave&ty Jos.Jndreirs 

SflSP If 










State of Affairs in Pennsylvania. — Defects of the Government — Legis- 
lation. — Conduct of the Proprietaries. — Object of Franklin's Agency 
in England. — Collinson, Miss Stevenson, Strahan, Governor Shirley, 
Beccaria, Musschenbroek. — Franklin's Interview with the Proprietaries. 
— He causes a Letter to be published respecting Pennsylvania. — 
Delays in his public Business. — He travels in various Parts of Eng- 
land. — Visits the Place in which his Ancestors were born. — Forms 
an Acquaintance with Baskerville. — Publishes the "Historical Re- 
view of Pennsylvania." — Authorship of that Work. 

The dissensions, which had long existed and con- 
tinually increased, between the governors and assem- 
blies of Pennsylvania, had their origin in the peculiar 
structure of the government, and the manner of its 
administration. The system, possessing in itself many 
excellent principles, became vicious, and almost im- 
practicable, in its operation. William Penn, the foun- 
der and first Proprietor, while he was careful of his 
own interest, made to the original settlers some valuable 
concessions. The royal charter obtained by him was 
such, as to secure political rights on the broad basis 
of English freedom; and the charter of privileges, 
which he granted to the people, established unlimited 
toleration in religion, and gave them so large a share 


230 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

in the making of the laws, as to place civil liberty, 
and the protection of property, almost entirely in their 
own keeping. These were substantial benefits; and 
the liberal and benevolent motives of Penn in confer- 
ring them, and his enlightened views on the subject 
of legislation, cannot be questioned. It was a maxim 
with him, that freedom can exist only where the 
laws rule, and the people are parties in making those 

Theoretically considered, - his frame of government 
promised all that could be desired by a free people in 
a state of colonial dependence. But it 'was marred 
with defects, which admitted of no remedy, and which 
in practice often defeated the best aims for the gen- 
eral welfare. In the first place, there was a charter 
from the King, imposing restraints and conditions by 
which he and the inhabitants were equally bound. In 
the next place, as Proprietor, he retained for himself 
and his descendants certain rights of property and a 
political control, which conflicted with the public in- 
terests and abridged the freedom of legislation. Dur- 
ing his lifetime these evils were so manifest, and per- 
plexed him so much, that he was on the point of sur- 
rendering the jurisdiction of the province to the crown, 
reserving to himself and family the right of property 
only in the territory, which had been confirmed to 
him by the royal charter. And afterwards, when his 
sons became Proprietaries as successors to their fa- 
ther, the difficulties were constantly increased by their 
mode of administering the government. They sent out 
deputy-governors, armed with instructions so imperative 
and pointed, as to leave them neither discretion nor 
power to conform to circumstances by yielding to the 
will or wishes of the representatives of the people. 
Hence these governors refused their assent to laws, 

iE T . 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 231 

which the Assemblies regarded as of vital importance 
both to the safety and prosperity of the common- 

Again, the King added his instructions, forbidding 
laws of a particular description to be passed by the 
governors, without a clause suspending their operation 
till they had received the royal sanction. This was 
a violation of the charter. By that instrument, all laws 
were permitted to take effect as soon as they were 
passed, although they were to be sent to England 
within five years, and, if disapproved by the King, they 
were then to be null and void. And even this pro- 
cess was slow, vexatious, and expensive. When a 
law had gone through all the forms in Pennsylvania, 
it was transmitted to an agent in London, by whom 
it was laid before the Board of Trade. It was next 
referred to the King's solicitor for his opinion, after 
which it came back to the Board of Trade, where it 
was considered and acted upon. Thence it made its 
way to the King's Council, and here it was at last con- 
firmed or rejected. If the Proprietaries took excep- 
tions to an act, they employed counsel to argue against 
it before the Board, and it was necessary for the agent 
of the Assembly to do the same on the other side. 
Meantime the business was attended with endless de- 
lays and heavy expenses. Harassed in this way from 
year to year, it is no wonder' that the patience of the 
Assembly was gradually worn out, and that they re- 
solved to seek redress. 

The conduct of the Proprietaries was censured chief- 
ly on the ground of attempts to strengthen their pecu- 
niary interests, though, in some instances, they also 
sought to extend their political powers. They owned 
large tracts of land in various parts of the province, 
which had been selected and surveyed for them where- 

232 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

ever a new purchase was made of the Indians. This 
land was of the choicest quality, and it rose rapidly 
in value as the country around it became settled. The 
Proprietaries set up a pretension, that their lands ought 
not to be taxed for the public service, and they instruct- 
ed their governors not to pass any bill in which such 
a tax was imposed. For many years this was not 
necessary, as the revenue for defraying the expenses 
of government was derived from an excise, and from 
the interest on bills of credit lent out to landholders. 

In times of war, however, extraordinary contributions 
were required for the defence of the province, and 
for the King's use in prosecuting the war. A land 
tax was then resorted to ; and the Assembly, consider- 
ing it just that the Proprietaries should bear their pro- 
portion in providing the means for defending their own 
property, included their lands in the laws for raising 
money. The governors, bound by their instructions, 
uniformly rejected these laws, and insisted, that the 
proprietary estates should in no case be taxed. Fre- 
quent altercations ensued. Franklin was the champion 
of the Assembly, being well qualified for this task, not 
more by his talents and skill as a writer, than by his 
perfect knowledge of the subjects in dispute. The 
able and elaborate replies, which from time to time 
were made to the objections and arguments of the 
governors, were nearly all from his pen. 

When it was determined, therefore, to send an agent 
to England with a remonstrance to the Proprietaries, 
and, should this prove ineffectual, with a petition to 
the King, Franklin was selected as the most competent 
person for this important mission. His instructions em- 
braced several objects,' tending to a removal of the 
obstacles to the peace and prosperity of the province ; 
but the principal one was the complaint against the 

JRt. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 233 

Proprietaries for refusing to bear their just share of the 
public burdens for defence, in common with the in- 
habitants, and in proportion to the value of their estates 
in Pennsylvania. He was, in general, to make such 
representations, and demand such redress, as would 
restore the violated rights of the people, and establish 
them on the fundamental principles of charter privi- 
leges and English liberty. 

Franklin's fame as a philosopher, and as a political 
writer, had preceded him in England. His brilliant 
discoveries in electricity had been made known to the 
world ten years before. He was already a member 
of the Royal Society, that body having rendered ample 
justice to his merits as an original discoverer, though 
tardily, and not till these merits had elicited the ap- 
plause of the learned in France and other countries. 
When he arrived in England, therefore, he did not 
find himself a stranger or without friends. 

His letters on electricity had been written to Peter 
Collinson, a member of the Royal Society, and a be- 
nevolent and worthy man, who had raised himself to 
usefulness and some degree of celebrity by his zeal 
and exertions in promoting the researches of others 
in various branches of science, and collecting the re- 
sults of their labors. Mr. Collinson kindly invited him 
to his house, where he stayed till he took lodgings at 
Mrs. Stevenson's, in Craven Street, a few doors from 
the Strand. Mrs. Stevenson's house had been recom- 
mended to him by some of his Pennsylvania friends, 
who had lodged there ; and, so well was he pleased 
with the accommodations, and the amiable character 
of the family, that he remained in the same place dur- 
ing the whole of his residence in England, a period of 
fifteen years. This circumstance is the more worthy 
of being mentioned, as he often alludes to the family 

VOL. I. 30 T* 

234 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

in his letters. Mrs. Stevenson had an only daughter, 
Miss Mary Stevenson, an accomplished young lady, 
whose fondness for study and acuteness of mind early 
attracted his notice; and some of his best papers on 
philosophical subjects were written for her instruction, 
or in answer to her inquiries. 

Mr. Strahan, afterwards the King's printer and a 
member of Parliament, who acquired wealth by his 
occupation and eminence by his talents, had long been 
one of Franklin's correspondents, and he now extend- 
ed to him the welcome and the substantial kindnesses 
of a cordial friendship. In London he also met Gov- 
ernor Shirley, with whom he had been much acquaint- 
ed in America, and who had consulted him confiden- 
tially on several important subjects relating to the ad- 
ministration of the colonies.* They visited each other 
frequently. But his chief associates were men of sci- 
ence, who sought his society, and whose conversation 
he relished ; for, although he had recently been much 
devoted to politics, yet his taste for philosophical in- 
vestigations, originally strong and confirmed by suc- 
cess, had not abated; and he seemed at all times to 
derive from it more real satisfaction than from the 
bustle of political life, into which he had first been 
drawn rather by circumstances and accident than by 
inclination. His arrival in England was likewise soon 
known on the continent, and he received congratulatory 
letters from some of the most distinguished men of the 
time, expressing admiration of his scientific achieve- 
ments and respect for his character.f 

* See the Letters to Governor Shirley, Vol. III. p. 56. 

f Beccaria, the celebrated Italian electrician, who had corresponded 
with him before he left America, sent to him a long . communication, 
containing an account of some new experiments in electricity illustra- 
tive of the Franklinian hypothesis. It begins as follows. "Sospitem 

,£t. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 235 

The business of his mission, however, was his first 
and principal care. But this was retarded by a se- 
vere illness, which confined him to his rooms for nearly 
eight weeks. A violent cold terminated in an inter- 
mitting fever, during which he suffered extremely from 
pain in the head, accompanied with occasional delirium. 
By cupping, a copious use of Peruvian bark, and other 
remedies, Dr. Fothergill succeeded in removing the 
disease, but not till it had reduced his patient to a 
very low and feeble state. As soon as his strength en- 
abled him to go abroad, he applied himself again to his 
public duties. 

His instructions required, that, as a preliminary step, 
he should see the Proprietaries, present to them the 
remonstrance with which he had been furnished by 
the Assembly, and endeavour to bring about an ami- 
cable arrangement, which might render further pro- 
ceedings unnecessary. He accordingly had an inter- 
view with them, and explained the tenor of his instruc- 
tions, the embarrassments under which public affairs la- 
bored in Pennsylvania, and the claims and wishes of 
the Assembly. 

The Proprietaries were not in a humor to listen 
to these representations, or to yield any thing to the 
complaints of the people. They insisted on their right 
to instruct the governors according to their own inter- 
pretation of the charters, defended what had been 

ex America Londirmm te appulisse gaudeo, vir prsBclarissime." And 
at the conclusion he says; " Tu vero cura, ut valeas; servari enim te 
decet quam diutissime utilissime scientiae perficiendas amplificandseque, 
quam certissimam instituisti." Musschenbroek, at the request of a mu- 
tual friend, drew up for him a list of the principal writers on electricity, 
and forwarded it with a letter in which he said; "Votis tuis lubenter 
annui ; ita addisces quid alii in Europa, prsestiterunt eruditi, sed simul 
videbis neminem magis recondita mysteria Electricitatis detexisse Frank- 
lino."— See Vol. V. p. 505; Vol. VII. p. 186. 

236 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1757. 

done, and complained of the encroachments of the As- 
sembly upon their prerogatives. They agreed, how- 
ever, to consider the matter, and to give an answer 
to the remonstrance. From the temper in which they 
discussed the subject, Franklin foresaw that it would be 
impossible to bring them to any change of sentiments or 
of conduct on the points at issue, and that he should 
be obliged in the end to appeal to the higher tribu- 
nals. The Proprietaries at this time were Thomas and 
Richard Penn, sons of William Penn, the founder of 
the colony. 

He soon discovered, that many obstacles were to 
be encountered even in preparing the way for his ul- 
terior proceedings. In the first place, he had to meet 
and baffle the opposition of the Proprietaries, who were 
resolved to resist his efforts step by step with all the 
means and influence they could command. Again, the 
great officers of the crown, by whom the cause must 
be decided, were naturally inclined to favor the royal 
prerogative, and looked with a jealous eye upon every 
movement of the people, which aimed at liberty or 
privilege. And, lastly, a prejudice existed against the 
Pennsylvanians, on account of their apparent back- 
wardness in supporting the war, and the reluctance of 
the Quakers to bear arms, or even to aid any scheme 
for military defence. This prejudice had been raised 
and kept alive by the Proprietaries and their agents, 
who represented the opposition to the governors as 
originating in the obstinacy and factious spirit of the 
people, equally hostile to the proprietary rights and 
the King's prerogative. 

The newspapers and other journals teemed with 
falsehoods of this kind, censuring alike the conduct 
and the motives of the Pennsylvanians. Franklin felt 
bound, not more by a regard for truth, than by a 

Mr. 51.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 237 

sense of justice to his countrymen, and in return for 
the confidence they had placed in him, to counteract 
these artifices, and disabuse the public mind of the 
mischievous errors into which it had been deceived. 
Indeed, there was little hope of success to his further 
endeavours, till this should be done, An opportunity 
soon presented itself A piece of intelligence was pub- 
lished, said to be the substance of letters from Phila- 
delphia, in which the members of the Assembly were 
accused of wasting their time in idle disputes with the 
governor, whilst the frontiers were ravaged by the In- 
dians, and of refusing to raise money for the public 
service, except by laws clogged with such conditions 
that the governor could not assent to them. The ob- 
stinacy of the Quakers in the Assembly was assigned 
as the principal cause of the dissensions. 

These charges were refuted in a letter, which was 
published in the name of Franklin's son, and addressed 
to the printer of the paper in which the pretended in- 
telligence had first appeared. And here he had a 
proof, that neither justice, nor a fair hearing, was to 
be obtained on easy terms. He was obliged to pay 
the printer for allowing the article a place in his pa- 
per, although this same paper was the vehicle in which 
the false reports had originally been circulated. 

In this letter the actual condition of the province 
was briefly stated and explained. It was shown, that 
the frontiers were no more exposed than those of oth- 
er colonies ; that the inhabitants had arms in their 
hands and used them ; that the Quakers made but 
a small part of the whole population, and, though they 
had conscientious scruples as to bearing arms, yet 
they had never, as a body, opposed the measures 
for military defence ; on the contrary, some of them 
had withdrawn from the Assembly because their re- 

238 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1758. 

ligious principles would not suffer them to join in such 
measures, and others had refused to be elected for 
the same reason ; that, so far from neglecting to pro- 
vide the means of defence, the Assembly had already 
granted more than one hundred thousand pounds for 
the King's use since the beginning of the war, besides 
the heavy contingent expenses of government ; that 
numerous forts had been built, supplied, and garri- 
soned, soldiers raised, armed, and accoutred, a ship 
of war fitted out and sent to cruise on the coast, an 
expedition against the Indians undertaken and suc- 
cessfully executed ; and that, in short, the arbitrary 
and unjust instructions from the Proprietaries to the 
governors were the real and only sources of the troubles 
in Pennsylvania, the only obstacles to the harmony and 
energetic action of the government, to the prosperity 
and happiness of the people. 

This paper was skilfully drawn up, and with such 
fairness and so clear a statement of facts, that it could 
not fail to awaken the attention of thinking men, and 
to diminish the effect of the illiberal aspersions, which 
had called it forth. No attempt was made to refute 
it. The Proprietaries, however, remained firm, pro- 
ceeding slowly or not at all in their reply to the re- 
monstrance, and showing no disposition to enter into 
a compromise by a private arrangement. Even after 
a year had elapsed, they had done nothing ; and they 
gave as a reason, that they could not obtain the pa- 
pers they wanted from their legal advisers. Mean- 
time he thought it necessary to go forward with his 
business. The forms required, that the case should 
first be brought before the Board of Trade, who were 
to report their opinion to the Privy Council, where a 
final decision was to be obtained. If justice could not 

jEt.52.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 239 

be reached through this channel, it was intended, as 
a last resort, to seek redress from Parliament. 

The delays necessarily attending all affairs of this 
kind, left no room to hope for a speedy termination. 
The public mind was so much occupied with Euro- 
pean politics and the war on the continent, and the 
attention of the ministers and other officers of the 
government was so deeply engaged with these great 
concerns, that there was as little leisure as inclination 
to meddle with the colonial disputes, and least of all 
to go through a laborious investigation of facts, and a 
discussion of the complex difficulties in which the sub- 
ject was involved. 

In a letter to his wife, dated January 21st, 1758, 
Franklin says ; " I begin to think I shall hardly be 
able to return before this time twelve months. I am 
for doing effectually what I came about; and I find 
it requires both time and patience. You may think, 
perhaps, that I can find many amusements here to 
pass the time agreeably. It is true, the regard and 
friendship I meet with from persons of worth, and 
the conversation of ingenious men, give me no small 
pleasure ; but, at this time of life, domestic comforts 
afford the most solid satisfaction, and my uneasiness 
at being absent from my family, and longing desire 
to be with them, make me often sigh in the midst 
of cheerful company." He could do no more than to 
put the business in train, by furnishing the lawyers, 
employed on the part of his constituents, with the 
materials and facts for enabling them to appear in be- 
half of the province, whenever the Board of Trade 
should take the case into consideration. 

For more than a year afterwards scarcely any pro- 
gress seems to have been made. He spent the sum- 
mer in journeying through various parts of England. 

240 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1758. 

He visited the University of Cambridge twice, and 
was present by invitation at the Commencement. He 
expresses himself as having been particularly gratified 
with the civilities and regard shown to him by the 
Chancellor and the heads of Colleges. Curiosity led 
him also to the town w^here his father was born, and 
where his ancestors had lived ; and he sought out with 
a lively interest such traditions concerning them, as 
could be gathered from the memory of ancient persons, 
from parish registers, and inscriptions on their tomb- 
stones. At Wellingborough he found a Mrs. Fisher, the 
only daughter of Thomas Franklin, his father's eldest 
brother, advanced in years, but in good circumstances. 
"From Wellingborough," he says, "we went to Ec- 
ton, about three or four miles, being the village where 
my father was bora, and where his father, grandfather, 
and great-grandfather had lived, and how many of the 
family before them we know not. We went first to 
see the old house and grounds ; they came to Mr. 
Fisher with his wife, and, after letting them for some 
years, finding his rent something ill paid, he sold them. 
The land is now added to another farm, and a school 
kept in the house. It is a decayed old stone build- 
ing, but still known by the name of Franklin House. 
Thence we went to visit the rector of the parish, who 
lives close by the church, a very ancient building. 
He entertained us very kindly, and showed us the old 
church register, in which were the births, marriages, 
and burials of our ancestors for two hundred years, as 
early as his book began. His wife, a goodnatured, 
chatty old lady, (granddaughter of the famous Arch- 
deacon Palmer, who formerly had that parish and lived 
there,) remembered a great deal about the family; car- 
ried us out into the churchyard, and showed us sev- 
eral of their gravestones, which were so covered with 

JEt. 52.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 241 

moss, that we could not read the letters, till she or- 
dered a hard brush and basin of water, with which 
Peter scoured them clean, and then Billy copied them. 
She entertained and diverted us highly with stories of 
Thomas Franklin, Mrs. Fisher's father, who was a con- 
veyancer, something of a lawyer, clerk of the county 
courts, and clerk to the Archdeacon in his visitations ; 
a very leading man in all county affairs, and much 
employed in public business." 

He was alike successful at Birmingham. " Here, 
upon inquiry," he adds, in writing to his wife, "we 
soon found out yours, and cousin Wilkinson's, and 
cousin Cash's relations. First, we found out one .of 
the Cashes, and he went with us to Rebecca Flint's, 
where we saw her and her husband. She is a tur- 
ner and he a buttonmaker ; they have no children ; 
were very glad to see any person that knew their 
sister Wilkinson ; told us what letters they had re- 
ceived, and showed us some of them ; and even show- 
ed us that they had, out of respect, preserved a keg, 
in which they had received a present of some stur- 
geon. They sent for their brother, Joshua North, who 
came with his wife immediately to see us ; he is a 
turner also, and has six children, a lively, active man. 
Mrs. Flint desired me to tell her sister, that they live 
still in the old house she left them in, which I think 
she says was their father's." On his return to Lon- 
don he pursued his inquiries still further, and " found 
out a daughter of his father's only sister, very old and 
never married ; a good, clever woman, but poor, though 
vastly contented with her situation, and very cheerful." 

He mentions other relations, of whom he heard in his 
journey, but, being out of the range of his tour, he in- 
tended visiting them at another time. His manner of 
speaking on this subject, in both his autobiography and 

VOL. I. 31 u 

242 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1758. 

his letters, shows that he took much delight in seeking 
out and rendering kindness to the members of his fam- 
ily, even where the relationship was remote, although 
they were all in humble life, and many of them poor; 
and there are evidences of his substantial and con- 
tinued bounty to such as were in a needy condition. 

At Birmingham he became acquainted with the cel- 
ebrated type-founder and printer, Baskerville, one of 
those men, the results of whose labors prove how much 
can be achieved in the -arts by resolution, persever- 
ance, and an energetic devotion to a favorite object. 
Franklin always loved the profession by which he had 
first gained a livelihood and afterwards a liberal com- 
petency; and, even when he had risen to eminence, 
and whilst he associated with statesmen and courtiers, 
he was fond of talking with printers, entering into their 
schemes, and suggesting or aiding improvements in 
their art. So far was he from being reserved on the 
subject of his early condition and pursuits, that he often 
alluded .to them as giving value to his experience, and 
as furnishing incidents illustrative of his maxims of life. 
One day at his dinner-table in Passy, surrounded by 
men of rank and fashion, a young gentleman was pres- 
ent who had just arrived from Philadelphia. He show- 
ed a marked kindness to the young stranger, convers- 
ed with him about the friends he had left at home, 
and then said, "I have been under obligation to your 
family; when I set up business in Philadelphia, being 
in debt for my printing materials and wanting employ- 
ment, the first job I had was a pamphlet written by 
your grandfather; it gave me encouragement and was 
the beginning of my success." A similarity of taste 
was the foundation of an intimate and lasting friend- 
ship between him and Baskerville. 

After passing a few days at Tunbridge Wells, his 

jEt.53.] life of franklin. 243 

health being much improved by travel and recreation, 
he went back to London and established himself again 
at his lodgings. Nor was he neglectful of his public 
duties. It was not possible to advance in the busi- 
ness of his mission, till the government should be ready 
to give it a hearing; but the press, which had been 
freely employed to calumniate the Penn sylvan ians, was 
open to his use. His friends, who understood the state 
of opinion in England, advised him to resort to it, as 
affording the best means of counteracting the errors 
that were abroad, and defeating the arts by which they 
were disseminated. 

Speaking of Mr. Charles, an eminent lawyer em- 
ployed as counsel on the part of the Assembly, he 
says in an official letter, "One thing, that he recom- 
mends to be done before we push our point in Par- 
liament, is, removing the prejudices, that art and acci- 
dent have spread among the people of this country 
against us, and obtaining for us the good opinion of the 
bulk of mankind without doors. This I hope we have 
it in our power to do, by means of a work now nearly 
ready for the press, calculated to engage the attention 
of many readers, and at the same time to efface the bad 
impression received of us ; but it is thought best not to 
publish it, till a little before the next session of Parlia- 

The work, nere alluded to, was the Historical Re- 
view of Pennsylvania, rendered famous not more on 
account of the ability with which it is written and the 
matter it contains, than of the abuse it brought up- 
on Franklin as its supposed author. It was pub- 
lished anonymously near the beginning of the year 
1759. It is the professed object of the writer to sup- 
port the cause of the Assembly and people of Penn- 
sylvania against the encroachments and arbitrary de- 

244 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1759. 

signs of the Proprietaries. With this aim, he sketches 
the political history of the province from its first set- 
tlement ; and, in executing his task, he is led occasion- 
ally to touch with considerable severity upon the trans- 
actions both of William Penn and of his descendants. 
As a ' composition, the treatise possesses merits of a 
high order. The style is vigorous and clear, always 
well sustained, and rising sometimes to eloquence. 
The Dedication and Introduction, especially, are finish- 
ed specimens of their kind. The tone and sentiments 
of the work may be inferred from the motto; "Those, 
who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little 
temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." 
As a history, however, it wants the essential requi- 
sites of completeness and impartiality. Yet there is no 
disguise about it. From the first page to the last the 
reader is made to see and understand the writer's drift 
and purpose, which are, to describe in strong language 
the oppressions under which the people have struggled, 
and to vindicate them from the censures of their ene- 
mies. This is done, in the first place, by copious ab- 
stracts and selections from public records and docu- 
ments, and, next, by such deductions and arguments 
as seem naturally to flow from them, As to the facts, 
there can be no doubt of their accuracy, since they 
are all drawn from authentic sources. The reader is 
left to judge how well they bear out the inferences and 
arguments. In short, the writer's statements, as far 
as they go, cannot be charged with misrepresenta- 
tion or with essential errors in point of fact. Their 
chief fault is, that they exhibit only one side of the 
subject. The evils of the proprietary system, eman- 
ating from its inherent defects and a vicious adminis- 
tration, are represented in glowing colors, while the ad- 
vantages derived from it, such as they were, have no 
place in his picture. 

Mr. 53.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 245 

The partisans of the Proprietaries, in England and 
Pennsylvania, eagerly ascribed this performance to the 
pen of Franklin, the leader of the popular party, whose 
influence and talents they most dreaded. The style, 
and other circumstances, gave countenance to such a 
suspicion. As he never publicly affirmed the contrary, 
it has generally been supposed that the suspicion 
was well founded. 

Very recently, however, an original letter has been 
obtained, which was written by him to David Hume 
soon after the work was published, and in which he 
explicitly disavows the authorship. "I am obliged to 
you," he says in that letter, "for the favorable senti- 
ments you express of the pieces sent to you ; though 
the volume relating to our Pennsylvania affairs was not 
written by me, nor any part of it, except the remarks 
on the Proprietor's estimate of his estate, and some 
of the inserted messages and reports of the Assem- 
bly, which I wrote when at home, as a member of 
committees appointed by the House for that purpose. 
The rest was by another hand."* This declaration, 
made for no other end than to correct an erroneous 
impression on the mind of Mr. Hume, puts to rest 
the question of authorship. It is certain, however, 
that the book was written under his direction, and he 
may fairly be considered responsible for its contents. 
Nor does it appear, that he was disposed to shrink 
from this responsibility, since, if he had been, nothing 
more was necessary than to avow publicly what he 
wrote to Mr. Hume. In fact, he was really the author 
of a large portion of the work, which consists of the 
messages and reports mentioned above. The reason 
for withholding the author's name at the time was, 

* See Vol. VII. p. 208. 


246 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1759. 

that, if this were known, it would weaken the effect 
intended to be produced, by fixing the public atten- 
tion upon an individual, rather than upon the book 
itself. Those, who have doubted Franklin's author- 
ship, have attributed it to Ralph, one of his early 
associates, an able political writer, and an historian of 
some celebrity. Ralph was then in London, and this 
conjecture, to say the least, is not improbable. 

Mt. 53.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 247 


Franklin advises the Conquest of Canada. — His Scheme adopted by the 
Ministry. — Journey to Scotland. — Lord Karnes, Robertson, Hume. — 
"Parable against Persecution." — First published by Lord Karnes. — 
How far Franklin claimed to be its Author. — His Mission brought 
to a favorable Termination. — Lord Mansfield's Agency in the Affair. 
— Franklin's Sentiments in Regard to Canada. — Writes a Pamph- 
let to show that it ought to be retained at the Peace. — Tour to the 
North of England. — Receives Public Money for Pennsylvania. — 
Tour in Holland. — Experiments to prove the Electrical Properties of 
the Tourmalin. — Cold produced by Evaporation. — Ingenious Theory 
for explaining the Causes of Northeast Storms. — Invents a Musical 
Instrument, called the Armonica. — His Son aooointed Governor* of 
New Jersey. — Returns to America. 

Although Franklin devoted himself mainly to the 
affairs of his agency, yet a mind like his could not be 
inattentive to the great events that were taking place 
around him, and he entered warmly into the general 
politics of the nation. Just before his arrival in Eng- 
land, Mr. Pitt had become prime minister. In the hope 
of drawing the attention of this sagacious statesman to 
the concerns of Pennsylvania, he made several attempts 
to gain an introduction to him, but without success. 
Alluding to this circumstance at a subsequent date, he 
said of Mr. Pitt; "He was then too great a man, or 
too much occupied in affairs of greater moment. I was 
therefore obliged to content myself with a kind of non- 
apparent and unacknowledged communication through 
Mr. Potter and Mr. Wood, his secretaries, who seemed 
to cultivate an acquaintance with me by their civilities, 
and drew from me what information I could give relative 
to the American war, with my sentiments occasionally 
on measures that were proposed or advised by others, 
which gave me the opportunity of recommending and 

248 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1759. 

enforcing the utility of conquering Canada. I after- 
wards considered Mr. Pitt as an inaccessible. I admired 
him at a distance, and made no more attempts for a 
nearer acquaintance." It will be seen hereafter, when 
Mr. Pitt was no longer minister, that his reserve had 
softened, and that he not only sought the acquaintance 
of Franklin, but consulted him confidentially on im- 
portant national affairs. 

It is known, moreover, that his advice at this time 
was both received and followed. It has been said on 
good authority, that the expedition against Canada, 
and its consequences in the victory of Wolfe at Que- 
bec and the conquest of that country, may be chiefly 
ascribed to Franklin. He disapproved the policy, by 
which the ministry had hitherto been guided, of carry- 
ing on the war against the French in the heart of 
Germany, where, if successful, it would end in no 
real gain to the British nation, and no essential loss 
to the enemy. In all companies, and on all occasions, 
he urged the reduction of Canada as an object of the 
utmost importance. It would inflict a blow upon the 
French power in America, from which it could never 
recover, and which would have a lasting influence 
in advancing the prosperity of the British Colonies. 
These sentiments he conveyed to the minister's friends, 
with such remarks on the practicability of the enter- 
prise, and the manner of conducting it, as his intimate 
knowledge of the state of things in America enabled 
him to communicate. They made the impression he 
desired, and the result verified his prediction. 

During the year 1759, little progress, if any, was 
made in the Pennsylvania affair. The Historical Re- 
view was silently operating on public opinion, and pre- 
paring the minds of men in office to act with a better 
understanding of the subject, than they had heretofore 

^Et. 53.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 249 

possessed. The Proprietaries sent out a new govern- 
or to take the place of Mr. Denny, with whom they 
became dissatisfied as having been too compliant to 
the Assembly. His successor was Mr. Hamilton, who 
had formerly held the office. In their instructions to 
him, they still refused to have their estates taxed, 
though they consented, that, in case the exigency of 
the times demanded it, a tax might be laid on their 
rents and quitrents only, provided their " tenants should 
be obliged to pay the same," the amount being de- 
ducted when payments were made by the tenants to 
their receiver in Pennsylvania. Mr. Hamilton endeav- 
oured to procure better terms, and told them plainly 
before he left England, that, in his opinion, "the pro- 
prietary estates ought to be taxed in common with all 
the other estates in the province." His efforts to carry 
this point, however, were unavailing. 

In the summer of this year Franklin made a journey 
to Scotland, accompanied by his son. His reputation 
as a philosopher was well established there, and he 
was received and entertained in a manner that evinced 
the highest respect for his character. The University 
of St. Andrews had some time before honored him 
with the degree of Doctor of Laws. He formed an 
acquaintance with nearly all the distinguished men, 
who then adorned Scotland by their talents and learn- 
ing, particularly Lord Karnes, Dr. Robertson, and Mr. 
Hume, with whom he kept up long afterwards a friend- 
ly correspondence. The pleasure he derived from his 
visit is forcibly expressed in a letter to Lord Karnes. 
" On the whole, I must say, I think the time we spent 
there was six weeks of the densest happiness I have 
met with in any part of my life; and the agreeable 
and instructive society we found there in such plenty 
has left so pleasing an impression on my memory, 

vol. i. 32 

250 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1759. 

that, did not strong connexions draw me elsewheie, 
I believe Scotland would be the country I should 
choose to spend the remainder of my days in." Sim- 
ilar sentiments are repeated at a later date, and he 
often resolved to renew his visit ; but this he was not 
able to do, till several years afterwards, being prevented 
by his numerous occupations, and by the increasing 
pressure of public business.* 

He passed several days with Lord Karnes at his 
mansion in the country. While there, he read or recited 
from memory the celebrated Parable against Persecu- 
tion, which, on account of the notoriety it has gained, 
deserves a notice in this place, especially as some wri- 
ters have inconsiderately, and without a knowledge of 
the facts, charged him with plagiarism for allowing it 
to be published as his own. The particulars are these. 
Some time after this visit, Lord Karnes wrote to him 
for a copy of this Parable, which he accordingly for- 
warded. No more was heard of it for fourteen years, 

# The University of St. Andrews had conferred upon him the degree 
of Doctor of Laws in the month of February preceding his visit to 
Scotland. The following is a copy of the diploma. 

"Nos Universitatis St 1 . Andrece apud Scotos Rector, Promoter, Colle- 
giorum Prcefecti, Facultatis Artium Decanus, cceterique Professorum Or- 
dines, Lectoribus Salutem. 

"Quandoquidem sequum est et rationi congruens, ut qui magno studio 
bonas didicerunt artes, iidem referant preemium studiis suis dignum, 
ac pro inerti hominum vulgo propriis quibusdam fulgeant honoribus et 
privileges, unde et ipsis bene sit, atque aliorum provocetur industria ; 
Quando etiam ed prsesertim spectant amplissima ilia jura Universitati 
Andreanse antiquitus concessa, ut, quoties res postulat, idoneos quosque 
in quavis facultate viros, vel summis, qui ad earn facultatem pertinent, 
honoribus amplificare queat; Quumque ingenuus et honestus vir, Ben- 
jaminus Franklin, Artium Magister, non solum jurisprudential cognitione, 
morum integritate, suavique vitse consuetudine nobis sit commendatus, 
verum etiam acute inventis et exitu felici factis experiments, quibus 
Rerum Naturalium, et imprimis Rei Electricse parum hactenus explo- 
ratas, scientiam locupletavit, tantam sibi conciliaverit per orbem terrarum 
laudem, ut summos in Republica Literaria. mereatur honores ; Hisce 
nos adducti, et prsemia virtuti debita, quantum in nobis est, tribuere 

Mt. 53.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 251 

when Lord Kames published the first edition of his 
" Sketches of the History of Man." In that work the 
Parable was inserted, with the following declaration by 
the author. "It was communicated to me by Dr. 
Franklin of Philadelphia, a man who makes a great 
figure in the learned world, and who would still make 
a greater figure for benevolence and candor, were virtue 
as much regarded in this declining age as knowledge." 

Lord Kames does not say, that Dr. Franklin wrote 
the Parable, yet such an inference is fairly deducible 
from his language, and in this light it was understood 
by the public. At length some one lit upon a similar 
story in Jeremy Taylor's "Liberty of Prophesying," 
where Taylor says, that it was taken from the "Jews' 
books." So vague a reference afforded no clue to its 
origin, but a Latin version of it was found in the dedi- 
cation of a work by George Gentius, who ascribes it 
to Saadi the Persian poet; and Saadi relates it as 
coming from another person, so that its source still re- 
mains a matter for curious research. 

volentes, Magistrum Benjaminura Franklin supra nominatum, Utriusque 
Juris Doctorem creamus, constituimus, et renunciamus, eumque dein- 
ceps ab universis pro Doctore dignissmo haberi volumus ; adjicimusque 
ei, plena manu, queecunque, uspiam gentium, Juris Utriusque Doctoribus 
competunt privilegia et ornamenta. In cujus rei testimonium hasce 
nostras privilegii Literas, chirographis singulorum confirmatas, et com- 
muni Almas Universitatis sigillo munitas, dedimus Andreapoli duodeci- 
mo die Mensis Februarii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo quin- 
quagesimo nono." 

This diploma was signed by Andrew Shaw, Rector of the University, 
David Gregory, Professor of Mathematics, Robert Watson, the historian, 
and nine other officers of the University, 

While he was at Edinburgh, the freedom of the city was presented to 
him. The following is an extract from the record, dated September, 
5th, 1759. "Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia is hereby admitted a bur- 
gess and guild-brother of this city, as a mark of the affectionate respect, 
which*the Magistrates and Council have for a gentleman, whose amiable 
character, greatly distinguished for usefulness to the society which he 
belongs to, and love to all mankind, had long ago reached them across 
the Atlantic Ocean." On the 2d of October the same compliment 
was paid to him by the magistrates of St. Andrew's. 

252 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1760. 

The* Parable was imperfectly printed from Lord 
Karnes's copy. The last four verses were omitted, and 
these are essential to its completeness and beauty as 
it came from the hands of Franklin. Nor are there 
any grounds for the charge of plagiarism, since it was 
published without his knowledge, and without any pre- 
tence of authorship on his part. In a letter to Mr. 
Vaughan, written a short time before his death, he 
says ; " The truth is, that I never published the Para- 
ble, and never claimed more credit from it, than what 
related to the style, and the addition of the concluding 
threatening and promise. The publishing of it by Lord 
Karnes, without my consent, deprived me of a good 
deal of amusement, which I used to take in reading 
it by heart out of any Bible, and obtaining the remarks 
of the scripturians upon it, which were sometimes very 
diverting ; not but that it is in itself, on account of the 
importance of its moral, well worth being made known 
to all mankind." 

A principal charm of this apologue is the felicity 
with which the Scripture style is imitated, both as 
to the thoughts and the manner of expressing them. 
For this charm, as well as for the closing verses, which 
give additional force to the moral, it is wholly indebt- 
ed to Franklin; and it should moreover be observed, 
that the popular favor it has received, and the curi- 
osity it has excited, are to be ascribed to the dress in 
which he clothed it. Till it appeared in this dress, it 
never attracted notice, although made public, long be- 
fore, in so remarkable a work as the one into which 
it was incorporated by Jeremy Taylor.* 

After a delay of nearly three years, Franklin finally 
succeeded in bringing his public business to a termi- 

* See the Parable, and other particulars concerning it. Vol. II. p. 118. 

Mt. 54] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 253 

nation. The case was decided in June, 1760. Gover- 
nor Denny had given his assent to several acts of the 
Assembly, which displeased the Proprietaries, and on 
account of which they removed him from office. Among 
them was an act for raising one hundred thousand 
pounds by a tax, in which the proprietary estates were 
put on the same footing as the estates of other land- 
holders in the province. These laws were sent over 
to England, as usual, to be approved by the King; 
but the Proprietaries opposed them, and exerted their 
endeavours to procure their rejection. 

Able lawyers were employed on both sides to argue 
the points at issue before the Board of Trade, and in 
the end all the laws were repealed except the one for 
raising money. This was strenuously resisted by the 
counsel for the Proprietaries, on the ground that it was 
an invasion of the prerogative, and an encroachment 
upon the proprietary rights ; but the equity of the case 
was too plain to be misunderstood or eluded. The 
law was confirmed, under certain conditions, requiring 
that the Governor should have a voice in the disposal 
of the money, that the waste lands of the Proprietaries 
should not be taxed, and that their unimproved lands 
should be rated as low as those of any of the in- 
habitants. The agent engaged, on the part of the 
Assembly, that these conditions should be complied 
with. In fact, they did not materially affect the origi- 
nal claim of the Assembly, as the great principle, so 
long contended for, of taxing the proprietary estates, 
was established. 

Thus, after much embarrassment and vexatious de- 
lay, Franklin succeeded in accomplishing the main ob- 
ject of his mission, and his services met with the 
entire approbation of his constituents. It was obvious, 
however, from the spirit which had been shown in 

VOL. I. V 

254 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1760. 

the course of these proceedings, that the administra- 
tion were not disposed to favor popular rights in the 
colonies ; and it was deemed inexpedient at that time 
to press further upon their notice the grievances, of 
which the people of Pennsylvania complained. The 
Proprietaries submitted to their defeat with as good a 
grace as they could, after holding out so long ; but, in 
writing to the Governor, they expressed themselves not 
well pleased, that the Board of Trade did not "pri- 
vately confer with them in drawing up their report," 
which they say had formerly been the usage. 

Lord Mansfield was chiefly concerned in that part 
of the report, which recommended the approval of the 
act for taxing the proprietary lands. This circumstance 
was mentioned in one of Franklin's letters to the As- 
sembly, and he seemed to infer from it a good inten- 
tion in his Lordship towards the Pennsylvanians. When 
this was told to the Proprietaries, they expressed sur- 
prise, that he should be so much deceived, and added ; 
"My Lord had no design to favor the Assembly, but 
to do us justice, and at the same time to extend the 
King's prerogative at both ours and the people's cost 
by and by." This may be true, and yet, by granting to 
the Assembly all they asked, it settled the controversy 
in their favor ; and so far it indicated good will to the 
Pennsylvanians, whatever may have been the ultimate 
design, if indeed there were any such. 

As the war was now drawing to a close, there 
began to be much speculation among politicians re- 
specting the terms of peace. Canada, Guadaloupe, and 
other possessions in the West Indies, East Indies, and 
Africa, had been taken from the French during the 
war. Which of these possessions did a sound policy 
and the interests of the nation require to be retained 1 
The discussion of this question was entered into with 

jEt. 54.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 255 

warmth by two parties. One was for holding Canada, 
the other Guadaloupe. The Earl of Bath wrote an 
able pamphlet to prove that Canada, as the most im- 
portant acquisition, should by all means be retained at 
the peace. Another writer, supposed to be Mr. Burke, 
replied to the Earl of Bath, and vigorously urged the 
retention of Guadaloupe in preference to Canada. The 
arguments were drawn out at much length on both 
sides, and public opinion was divided. 

Strongly impressed with the importance of the sub- 
ject in its relation to the American colonies, Franklin 
now engaged in the controversy, and published anony- 
mously a tract, entitled The Interest of Great Britain 
Considered, in which he advanced reasons for keeping 
Canada. His views are briefly stated in a letter to 
Lord Karnes, written a short time before. "No one 
can more sincerely rejoice than I do, on the reduction 
of Canada; and this is not merely as I am a colonist, 
but as I am a Briton. I have long been of opinion, 
that the foundations of the future grandeur and stability 
of the British empire lie in America ; and though, like 
other foundations, they are low and little now, they 
are, nevertheless, broad and strong enough to support 
the greatest political structure that human wisdom ever 
yet erected. I am, therefore, by no means for restor- 
ing Canada. If we keep it, all the country from the 
St. Lawrence to the Mississippi will in another century 
be filled with British people. Britain itself will become 
vastly more populous, by the immense increase of its 
commerce ; the Atlantic sea will be covered with your 
trading ships ; and your naval power, thence continu- 
ally increasing, will extend your influence round the 
whole globe, and awe the world! If the French re- 
main in Canada, they will continually harass our col- 
onies by the Indians, and impede if not prevent their 

256 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1760. 

growth; your progress to greatness will at best be 
slow, and give room for many accidents that may for 
ever prevent it. But I refrain, for I see you begin to 
think my notions extravagant, and look upon them 
as the ravings of a mad prophet." The same senti- 
ments were more fully explained and defended in the 
Canada Pamphlet, as the abovementioned tract has 
usually been called. 

He argued, that the possession of Canada was es- 
sential to the security of -the British colonies against 
the Indians on the frontiers, whom the French had 
always continued to keep in their interest, and who 
were instigated by them to commit depredations and 
outrages upon the inhabitants ; and, moreover, that, po- 
litically considered, this security was a justifiable ground 
for retaining a territory, which had been acquired in 
open war by the blood and treasure of the nation. It 
would, likewise, defeat for ever the ambitious designs 
of France for extending her power in America by 
seizing a large part of the continent and confining the 
British settlements to a narrow line along the coast, 
which design had long been manifest, and was indeed 
the principal cause of the war. Forts and military posts 
would afford but a feeble barrier, as experience had 
proved. He repudiated the idea advanced by some, 
that this was an affair of the colonies alone; and he 
showed, that the whole British empire was as much 
concerned in it as any of its remote parts ; that the 
wealth, strength, and political power of Great Britain 
would be immensely increased by the growing pros- 
perity of the colonies, if they were encouraged and 
protected by a wise policy and a due regard to the 
ties by which they were united to the mother country. 

These points were illustrated by a mass of facts, in- 
dicating a profound knowledge of the history and con- 

Mr. 54.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 257 

dition of the colonies, and of the commerce and po- 
litical interests of Great Britain. It had been said, 
that Canada ought to be left to the French as a check 
to the growth of the colonies, which might in process 
of time become too formidable to be controlled by a 
distant master. To which he replied, "A modest word, 
this check, for massacring men, women, and children ; " 
and suggested the easier method adopted by Pharaoh 
for preventing the increase of the Israelites. 

The success of this pamphlet was as great as the 
author could desire. By the advocates of the measure, 
which he supported, it was held up as irrefutable ; and 
by the opposite party, who attempted an answer, it 
was praised as spirited, able, and ingenious, and as 
containing every thing that could be said on that side 
of the question. It was believed to have produced an 
influence on the minds of the ministry, which was felt 
at the negotiation for peace. At any rate, Canada was 
retained. The author afterwards acknowledged his ob- 
ligation to his friend, Mr. Richard Jackson, for assist- 
ance in preparing the pamphlet for the press ; but it is 
not known to what extent or in what manner this as- 
sistance was rendered. 

It is a curious fact, that Franklin was thus instru- 
mental in annexing Canada to the British dominions, 
which was in reality the first step in the train of 
events, that led in a few years to the independence 
of the colonies ; a result, which he afterwards contrib- 
uted so much to accomplish, but which at this time 
was as little anticipated by him, as by any member of 
the British cabinet. 

Whilst he resided in England, it was his custom to 
spend several weeks of each summer in travelling. 
This year he made a tour to the north, returning 
through Cheshire and Wales to Bristol and Bath. He 

vol. i. 33 v * 

258 LIFE OF FRANKLIN [1760. 

at firsf proposed going over to Ireland, and thence to 
Scotland, but he relinquished this part of his design. 

When he came back to London, he found a letter 
from Mr. Norris, Speaker of the Assembly in Pennsyl- 
vania, informing him, that he had been appointed by 
that body to receive the proportion of the Parliament- 
ary grant, which had been assigned to that province. 
During the latter years of the war, the annual sum of 
two hundred thousand pounds sterling was allowed 
by Parliament to the colonies, in consideration of the 
heavy charges to which they were subjected in provid- 
ing an army, and the losses they sustained from the 
inroads of the enemy on the frontiers. This sum was 
apportioned to each colony according to the number of 
effective men employed in the field under the British 
generals. The share of Pennsylvania and the Delaware 
Counties for the first year was about thirty thousand 
pounds. This amount was paid into the hands of 
Franklin, by whom it was invested in the stocks, and 
otherwise disposed of, as directed by his constituents. 
The trust, though involving a high responsibility, and 
attended with embarrassments, was executed to the 
entire satisfaction of the Assembly. 

The Governor endeavoured at the outset to prevent 
his appointment, and then he insisted that he had a 
right to nominate other commissioners to act with the 
Assembly's agent in receiving the money. The Propri- 
etaries used their influence, also, to thwart his proceed- 
ings, alleging, that their deputy ought to have a voice 
in the disposal of this money after it reached Penn- 
sylvania. This pretence was not tolerated by the As- 
sembly. The grant was meant as a relief to the peo- 
ple, a just remuneration for the services they had 
rendered ; and it was maintained, that the only proper 
authority for disposing of it rested with the people's 

Mt. 55.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 259 

representatives. The ministry seemed to view the mat- 
ter in the same light, for the money was paid to the 
agent of the Assembly. 

Having now finished the most important parts of 
his public business, he had leisure for other employ- 
ments. In the summer of 1761, he went over to the 
continent, and travelled through Holland and Flanders, 
visiting the large cities, and returning in time to be 
present at the coronation of George the Third. There 
is no record of the incidents of this tour, except a 
short letter to his wife written at Utrecht, in which 
he says, he "had seen almost all the principal places, 
and the things worthy of notice, in those two countries, 
and received a good deal of information, that would 
be useful when he returned to America." 

His philosophical studies had been in a measure sus- 
pended for some time; yet he had recurred to them 
occasionally, and performed experiments, which were 
attended with novel or useful results. There was a 
dispute among the philosophers about the properties of 
tourmalin, a stone which JEpinus had discovered to 
possess the singular quality of being at the same time 
positively electrified on one side, and negatively on the 
opposite side, by heat alone, without the aid of fric- 
tion. Others denied this fact. Franklin made a se- 
ries of experiments with two specimens of tourmalin, 
given to him by Dr. Heberden, which confirmed jEpi- 
nus's account. He found, that the heat of boiling 
water was sufficient to excite these opposite electrical 
properties, and he supposed that others had failed in 
the experiment by using imperfect stones, or such as 
had not their faces properly cut. 

Before he left America, Professor Simson, of Glas- 
gow, had communicated to him some curious experi- 
ments made by Dr. Cullen, showing that cold could 


be produced by evaporation. This fact, so well estab- 
lished since, was then little known. He repeated the 
experiment, by applying spirits of wine to the bulb 
of a thermometer, and thereby caused the mercury to 
fall five or six degrees. On his first visit to the Uni- 
versity of Cambridge, at the suggestion of Dr. Hadley, 
professor of chemistry there, he performed the same 
process with ether, when the mercury fell to twenty- 
five degrees below the freezing point, and ice was 
formed on the bulb to the thickness of a quarter of 
an inch. "From this experiment," he observes, "one 
may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on 
a warm summer's day, if he were to stand in a pas- 
sage through which the wind blew briskly, and to be 
wet frequently with ether, a spirit more inflammable 
than brandy or common spirits of wine." 

This principle of evaporation he applied to an in- 
genious solution of several phenomena, hitherto uncon- 
sidered or unexplained. Among others, it furnished 
him with a reason why the heat of the human body 
is not increased above its natural temperature, or ninety- 
six degrees, by hot air, while inanimate substances 
will receive an accumulation of heat. He had himself 
known the thermometer to stand at one hundred de- 
grees in the shade at Philadelphia, while the heat of 
his body was not above its usual temperature of ninety- 
six. Being at the same time in a profuse perspi- 
ration, he inferred, that the heat was carried off by 
evaporation, as fast as it came in contact with his body 
from the surrounding air. Hence, laborers in the har- 
vest field, under a burning sun, will endure excessive 
heat, whilst they perspire freely, and drink a sufficient 
quantity of water, or other liquid, to supply the moist- 
ure that is exhausted by evaporation. 

His mind was ever busy in searching for the causes 


not only of remarkable phenomena, but of the common 
operations of nature. A visit to the salt-mines in 
England led him to reflect on the formation of those 
mines and on the saltness of the sea. " It has been the 
opinion of some great naturalists," he observes, "that 
the sea is salt only from the dissolution of mineral or 
rock salt, which its waters happened to meet with. 
But this opinion takes it for granted, that all water 
was originally fresh, of which we can have no proof. 
I own I am inclined to a different opinion, and rather 
think all the water on this globe was originally salt, 
and that the fresh water we find in springs and rivers, 
is the produce of distillation. The sun raises the va- 
pors from the sea, which form clouds, and fall in rain 
upon the land, and springs and rivers are formed of 
that rain. As to the rock salt found in mines, I con- 
ceive, that, instead of communicating its saltness to the 
sea, it is itself drawn from the sea, and that of course 
the sea is now fresher than it was originally. This 
is only another effect of nature's distillery, and might 
be performed various ways." One of these ways he 
thus describes. "As we know from their effects, that 
there are deep fiery caverns under the earth, and even 
under the sea, if at any time the sea leaks into any 
of them, the fluid parts of the water must evaporate 
from that heat, and pass off through some volcano, 
while the salt remains, and by degrees, and continual 
accretion, becomes a great mass. Thus the cavern 
may at length be filled, and the volcano connected 
with it cease burning, as many, it is said, have done; 
and future miners, penetrating such cavern, find what 
we call a salt-mine." This may be no more than a 
theory, but perhaps it is as good a theory as any oth- 
er that has been advanced on the subject. 

To Mr. Alexander Small, a gentleman in London 
No. 6. 


fond of scientific inquiries, he communicated his reason 
for thinking that the northeast storms, so common along 
the Atlantic coast of North America, extending from 
Newfoundland to Florida, begin at the southeast. In 
October, 1 743, there was to be an eclipse of the moon 
at nine o'clock in the evening, which he prepared to 
observe at Philadelphia. But when the time came, 
the heavens were overcast, and a northeast storm had 
set in. He was surprised to learn, therefore, by the 
Boston newspapers, that the eclipse was visible in a 
clear sky at that place, as he supposed a storm, attend- 
ed by a strong wind from that quarter, would naturally 
begin there first. He ascertained, however, that it 
actually began in Boston nearly four hours later than 
in Philadelphia, and that along the southern coast it 
began earlier in proportion as any given place was less 
distant from the Gulf of Mexico. This put him upon 
observing these storms whenever they occurred ; and 
he found in each instance, that they began at the 
southeast, and moved northwestward, against the cur- 
rent of the wind, at the rate of about one hundred 
miles an hour. 

The fact being established, he next set himself to 
assign a reason. Experience shows, that cool air will 
flow in and occupy the place of warmer and more rare- 
fied air. A fire in a chimney is made to burn, and the 
smoke and warm air to ascend, by a current of air 
flowing into it from the room. The motion begins at 
the chimney, where a portion of air is first displaced, 
and thus a current is produced from all parts of the 
room towards the chimney. For several days pre- 
viously to one of these storms, he supposes the air to 
become heated and rarefied by the rays of the sun 
about the regions of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. 
The cooler and moister air from the northeast flows 


in and causes the rarefied air to ascend ; clouds and 
rain are formed by the action of heat upon this cooler 
and moister air; and thus the storm begins, with a 
current of wind setting from the northeast. The denser 
air presses upon the lighter, till the current extends 
itself, in a retrograde direction, along the whole coast.* 

From early life he had a passion for music, and he 
both studied it as a science, and practised it as an art. 
His remarks on the harmony and melody of the old 
Scotch songs have been much commended. Mr. Tytler 
says, "This notion of Dr. Franklin's, respecting what 
may be called the ideal harmony of the Scottish melo- 
dies, is extremely acute, and is marked by that in- 
genious simplicity of thought, which is the character- 
istic of a truly philosophical mind."f In a letter to 
his brother he explains the defects of modern music, 
with the same simplicity and acuteness, illustrating his 
idea by a criticism on one of Handel's admired com- 
positions, t 

In London he saw for the first time an instrument, 
consisting of musical glasses, upon which tunes were 
played by passing a wet finger round their brims. He 
was charmed with the sweetness of its tones ; but the 
instrument itself seemed to him an imperfect contri- 
vance, occupying much space and limited in the num- 
ber of its tones. The glasses were arranged on a ta- 
ble, and tuned by putting water into them till they gave 
the notes required. 

After many trials he succeeded in constructing an 
instrument of a different form, more commodious, and 

* The facts and hypothesis, respecting 1 northeast storms, are likewise 
contained in a letter written to the Reverend Jared Eliot, ten years 
before they were communicated to Mr. Small, which is now for the first 
time published in this work. See Vol. VI. p. 105. 

f Life of Lord Kames, 2d ed. Vol. II. p. 31. 

t See Vol. VI. p. 269. 

264 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1762. 

more extended in the compass of its notes. His 
glasses were made in the shape of a hemisphere, with 
an open neck or socket in the middle, for the purpose 
of being fixed on an iron spindle. They were then 
arranged one after another, on this spindle, the largest 
at one' end and gradually diminishing in size to the 
smallest at the other end. The tones depended on 
the size of the glasses. The spjndle, with its series of 
glasses, was fixed horizontally in a case, and turned 
by a wheel attached to its larger end, upon the princi- 
ple of a common spinning-wheel. The Derformer sat 
in front of the instrument, and the tones were brought 
out by applying a wet finger to the exterior surface 
of the glasses as they turned round. He called it the 
Armonica, in honor of the musical language of the 
Italians, as he says in a letter to Beccaria, in which it is 
minutely described. 

For some time the Armonica was in much use. A 
Miss Davies acquired great skill in playing upon it. 
She performed in public, and, accompanied by her sis- 
ter, who was a singer, she exhibited her skill in the 
principal cities of Europe, where she attracted large 
audiences, and the notice of distinguished individuals. 
The instruments were manufactured in London, and 
sold at the price of forty guineas each.* 

At the beginning of the year 1762, Dr. Franklin 
began to think seriously about returning to his native 
country, and to prepare for his departure. His friend, 
Mr. Strahan, had endeavoured to prevail on him to 
bring over his family and settle himself in London. Mr. 
Strahan wrote to Mrs. Franklin on the subject, using 
much persuasion to win her consent to this project. 

# Miss Davies performed in the presence of the Imperial court of 
Vienna, at the celebration of the nuptials of the Duke of Parma and the 
Archduchess of Austria. An ode was composed for the occasion by Met- 

Mr. 56.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 265 

She was no less opposed to it than her husband, whose 
opinion may be gathered from the following account of 
a conversation with Mr. Strahan, contained in a letter 
to his wife. "He was very urgent with me to stay in 
England, and prevail with you to remove hither with 
Sally. He proposed several advantageous schemes to 
me, which appeared reasonably founded. His family is 
a very agreeable one ; Mrs. Strahan a sensible and good 
woman, the children of amiable characters, and partic- 
ularly the young man, who is sober, ingenious, and 
industrious, and a desirable person. In point of cir- 
cumstances there can be no objection; Mr. Strahan 

astasio, expressly designed to be sung by her sister and accompanied by 
the Armonica. It was set to a new piece of music adapted to the 
instrument. The ode is here printed from a manuscript copy found 
among Dr. Franklin's papers. 


" Per l' Occasione delle Nozze del Real Infante Duca di 
Parma con l' Arciduchessa d' Austria, cantata in Vienna 
dalla Cecilia Davies, detta l' Inglesina, Sorella dell' ec- 
cellente Sonatrice del nuovo Istrumento di Musica, chia- 
mato l' Armonica, inventato dal celebre Dottore Franklin. 

" Ah perche col canto mio 

Dolce all' alme ordir catena 
Perche mai non posso anch' io, 
Filomena, al par di te ? 
S' oggi all' aure un labbro spande 
Rozzi accenti, e troppo audace ; 
Ma, se tace in di si grande, 
Men colpevole non e. 

"Ardir, germana; a tuoi sonori adatta 
Volubili cristalli 

L' esperta mano ; e ne risveglia il raro 
Concento seduttor. Col canto anch' io 
Tentero d' imitarne 
L' amoroso tenor. D' applausi e voti 
Or che la Parma e 1' Istro 
D' Amalia e di Fernando 
Agli augusti imenei tutto risuona, 

vol. i. 34 w 

266 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1762. 

being in such a way as to lay up a thousand pounds 
every year from the profits of his business, after main- 
taining his family and paying all charges. I gave him, 
however, two reasons why I could not think of removing 
hither ; one, my affection to Pennsylvania, and long es- 
tablished friendships and other connexions there; the 
other, your invincible aversion to crossing the seas. 
And, without removing hither, 1 could not think of 
parting with my daughter to such a distance. I thank- 
ed him for the regard shown to us in the proposal, but 
gave him no expectation that I should forward the 
letters. So you are at liberty to answer or not, just 
as you think proper." As far as his pecuniary interests 

Saria fallo il tacer. Ne te del nuovo 

Armonico strumento 

Renda dubbiosa il lento, 

II tenue, il flebil suono. Abbiasi Marte 

I suoi d' ire ministri 
Strepitosi oricalchi; una soave 
Armonia, non di sdegni 

Ma di teneri affetti eccitatrice, 

Piu conviene ad amor ; meglio accompagna 

Quel che dall' alma bella 

Si trasfonde sul volto 

Alia Sposa Real placido lume, 

II benigno costume, 

La dolce maesta. Benche sommesso 

Lo stil de' nostri accenti 

A Lei grato sara ; che 1' umil suono 

Non e colpa o difetto ; 

E sempre in suono umil parla il rispetto. 

" Alia stagion de' fiori 
E de' novelli amori 
E grato il molle fiato 
D' un zeffiro leggier. 
O gema tra le fronde, 

O lento increspi 1' onde ; 
Zeffiro in ogni lato 
Compagno e del piacer. 

"Questa cantata fu scritta dal Abate Pietro Metastasio, e messa 
in musica da Giovanni Adolfo Hasse. detto il Sassone." 

Mt. 56.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 267 

were concerned, there is no doubt that they would 
have been essentially advanced by complying with Mr. 
Strahan's advice; but he had higher motives, and 
events proved that he judged wisely. 

Before he left England he received the degree of 
Doctor of Laws from the Universities of Edinburgh and 
Oxford.* Other friends, besides Mr. Strahan, regretted 
his departure. Mr. Hume wrote; "I am very sorry, 
that you intend soon to leave our hemisphere. America 
has sent us many good things, gold, silver, sugar, tobac- 
co, indigo, &c. ; but you are the first philosopher, and 
indeed the first great man of letters, for whom we are 
beholden to her. It is our own fault, that we have not 
kept him ; whence it appears, that we do not agree with 
Solomon, that wisdom is above gold ; for we take care 
never to send back an ounce of the latter, which we 
once lay our fingers upon." Franklin replied ; " Your 
compliment of gold and wisdom is very obliging to me, 
but a little injurious to your country. The various 
value of every thing in every part of this world arises, 
you know, from the various proportions of the quantity 
to the demand. We are told, that gold and silver in 
Solomon's time were so plenty, as to be of no more 
value in his country than the stones in the street. You 
have here at present just such a plenty of wisdom. 
Your people are, therefore, not to be censured for 
desiring no more among them than they have ; and, if 

* The date of the Oxford degree is April 30th, 1762. The following- 
extract from the University records is found among Dr. Franklin's 

" February, 22d, 1762. Agreed, nem. con. at a meeting of the Heads 
of Houses, that Mr. Franklin, whenever he shall please to visit the Uni- 
versity, shall be offered the compliment of the degree of D. C. L. 
honoris causa. "I. Brown, Vice-Can" 

The degree of Master of Arts was likewise conferred on his son, 
William Franklin, at Oxford. 

268 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1762. 

I have any, I should certainly carry it where, from its 
scarcity, it may probably come to a better market." 

A few days before he sailed, his son was appointed 
governor of New Jersey, although the appointment was 
not publicly announced till some time afterwards. It 
is evident from this act of the ministry, that they had 
then conceived no prejudice against the father, on ac- 
count of the part he had taken in the Pennsylvania 
controversy ; for it could only have been through the 
influence of his character, and the interest made by his 
friends on this ground, that so high an office could 
have been obtained for the son, whose personal ser- 
vices had given him no adequate claims to such an 
elevation. This proof of confidence from the ministry 
was displeasing to the Proprietaries. They drew some 
consolation, however, even from so unpropitious a cir- 
cumstance. Thomas Penn said, in a letter to Gover- 
nor Hamilton, "I am told you will find Mr. Franklin 
more tractable, and I believe we shall, in matters of 
prerogative ; as his son must obey instructions, and 
what he is ordered to. do, the father cannot well op- 
pose in Pennsylvania." This hope was of short du- 
ration. The father continued as untractable as ever, 
zealous in the people's cause, firm in its support, and 
active in every measure for establishing their rights on 
the basis of liberty and a just administration of the 

The Proprietaries, suspicious of his designs, and 
dreading his influence, kept a watchful eye on him 
while he was in England ; and they at least deserve the 
credit of candor for acquitting him of having been en- 
gaged in any practices, which they could censure. " I 
do not find," said Thomas Penn, in another letter to 
Governor Hamilton, "that he has done me any prej- 
udice with any party, having had conversations with 

Mt. 56.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 269 

all, in which I have studied to talk of these affairs; 
and I believe he has spent most of his time in philo- 
sophical, and especially in electrical matters, having 
generally company in a morning to see those experi- 
ments, and musical performances on glasses, where 
any one that knows him carries his friends." This 
declaration is honorable to both parties; and it shows 
that the agent, while performing his duty to his con- 
stituents, was not unmindful of a proper respect for 
the character and interests of his opponents. 

Dr. Franklin sailed from England about the end of 
August, having resided there more than five years. In 
a letter, dated at Portsmouth on the 17th of that 
month, bidding farewell to Lord Kames, he said; -"I 
am now waiting here only for a wind to waft me to 
America, but cannot leave this happy island and my 
friends in it without extreme regret, though I am go- 
ing to a country and a people that I love. I am 
going from the old world to the new ; and I fancy I 
feel like those, who are leaving this world for the 
next ; grief at the parting ; fear of the passage ; hope 
of the future." He arrived at Philadelphia on the 1 st of 
November. The fleet, in which he took passage, un- 
der the convoy of a man-of-war, touched at Madeira, 
and was detained there a few days. They were kind- 
ly received and entertained by the inhabitants, on ac- 
count of the protection afforded them by the English 
fleet against the united invasion of France and Spain. 
Not long after his return to Philadelphia, he wrote to 
Mr. Richard Jackson a full account of the island of 
Madeira, its population, soil, climate, and productions ; 
but the letter has never been published, and it is sup- 
posed to be lost. 

270 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1762. 


Receives the Thanks of the Assembly. — Tour through the Middle and 
Eastern Colonies. — Engages again in Public Affairs. — Massacre of 
Indian's in Lancaster. — Franklin's Pamphlet on the Subject, and his 
Agency in pacifying the Insurgents. — Colonel Bouquet's Account 
of his Public Services. — Disputes revived between the Governor and 
the Assembly. — Militia Bill defeated. — The Governor rejects a Bill 
in which the Proprietary Estates are taxed. — The Assembly resolve 
to petition the King for a Change of Government — Petition drafted 
by Franklin. — Chosen Speaker o'f the Assembly. — N orris, Dickinson, 
Galloway. — Scheme for Stamp Duties opposed by the Assembly. — 
Franklin is not elected to the Assembly. — Appointed Agent to the 
Court of Great Britain. — Sails for England. 

No sooner was his arrival known in Philadelphia, 
than his friends, both political and private, whose at- 
tachment had not abated during his long absence, 
flocked around him to offer their congratulations on 
the success of his mission, and his safe return to his 
family. At each election, while he was abroad, he 
had been chosen a member of the Assembly, and he 
again took his seat in that body. The subject of his 
agency was brought before the House. A committee 
was appointed to examine his accounts, who reported 
that they were accurate and just ; and a resolve was 
passed, granting him three thousand pounds sterling, 
as a remuneration for his services while engaged in 
the public employment. This resolve was followed by 
a vote of thanks " for his many services, not only to the 
province of Pennsylvania, but to America in general, 
during his late agency at the court of Great Britain." 

As the contest was one, however, in which two 
parties were enlisted in opposition, with all the vio- 
lence of zeal and acrimony of personal feeling, which 
usually attend controversies of this nature, he had the 

^Et. 57.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 271 

misfortune to draw down upon himself the enmity of 
one party, in proportion to the applause which his 
successful endeavours elicited from the other. And it 
may here be observed, that the part he took in these 
proprietary quarrels for the defence and protection of 
popular rights, which he sustained by the full weight 
of his extraordinary abilities, was the foundation of the 
inveterate hostility against his political character, with 
which he was assailed in various ways to the end of 
his life, and the effects of which have scarcely dis- 
appeared at the present day. Yet no one, who now 
impartially surveys the history of the transactions in 
which he was engaged, can doubt the justice of the 
cause he espoused with so much warmth, and which 
he upheld to the last with unwavering constancy and 

Circumstances raised him to a high position as a 
leader, his brilliant talents kept him there, and he 
thus became the object of a malevolence, which had 
been engendered by disappointment, and embittered 
by defeat. This he bore with a philosophical equa- 
nimity, and went manfully onward with the resolution 
of a stern and true patriot, forgiving his enemies, and 
never deserting his friends, faithful to every trust, and, 
above all, faithful to the liberties and best interests 
of his country. 

In consequence of so long an absence from home, 
his private affairs required attention for some time 
after his return. Holding the office of postmaster- 
general in America, he spent five months of the year 
1763, in travelling through the northern colonies for 
the purpose of inspecting the postoffices. He went 
eastward as far as New Hampshire, and the whole 
extent of his tour, in going and coming, was about 
sixteen hundred miles. In this journey he was ac- 

272 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1763. 

companied by his daughter, and it was performed in a 
light carriage, driven by himself. A saddle horse made 
a part of the equipage, on which his daughter rode, as 
he informs us, nearly all the way from Rhode Island 
to Philadelphia. The meeting of his old friends in 
Boston, Rhode Island, and New York, afforded him 
much enjoyment, and he was detained many days 
in each place by their hospitality. At New York he 
met General Amherst, commander-in-chief of the Brit- 
ish army in America, who received him with flattering 

He was also obliged to move slowly, on account of 
a weakness and pain in the breast, attended with un- 
favorable symptoms, which were increased by two ac- 
cidental falls, in one of which his shoulder was dislo- 
cated. To relieve the anxiety of his sister, at whose 
house he had stayed in Boston, he wrote to her as 
follows, immediately after he reached home. " I find 
myself quite clear from pain, and so have at length 
left off the cold bath. There is, however, still some 
weakness in my shoulder, though much stronger than 
when I left Boston, and mending. I am otherwise 
very happy in being at home, where I am allowed to 
know when I have eat enough and drunk enough, 
am warm enough, and sit in a place that I like, and 
nobody pretends to know what I feel better than my- 
self. Do not imagine, that I am a whit the less sen- 
sible of the kindness I experienced among my friends 
in New England. I am very thankful for it, and shall 
always retain a grateful remembrance of it." 

His health and strength were gradually restored, and 
he entered again with his accustomed ardor and en- 
ergy into the pursuits of active life. At this time, 
also, there was a demand for the service of every citi- 
zen, whose knowledge of business and experience in 

Mt. 57.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 273 

public affairs qualified him to execute important trusts. 
The peace, while it relieved the country from a for- 
eign foe, had been the signal for disbanding the forces, 
which protected the frontiers. Hitherto, the thirst of 
the savages for blood and rapine, inflamed by the late 
w T ar, had been satisfied in fighting the battles of their 
civilized neighbours, and in murdering and plundering 
under their sanction; but now, having had no share 
in making the peace, and deriving no benefit from it, 
they conceived the project of continuing the war on 
their own account. In pursuance of this plan, the 
western tribes formed themselves into a confederacy, 
and broke in upon the frontier settlements of the mid- 
dle provinces, with a boldness and ferocity, that had 
seldom been shown on former occasions, murdering 
the inhabitants, burning their houses, and carrying off 
or destroying their effects. 

To meet this exigency, it was necessary to raise 
troops, and to procure money for paying them and 
for purchasing military supplies. This was promptly 
done by the Assembly of Pennsylvania, and commis- 
sioners were appointed to expend the money appro- 
priated for these objects. Franklin was one of the 

In the month of December, a tragical occurrence 
took place in Lancaster County, as revolting to hu- 
manity, as it was disgraceful to the country. At the 
Conestogo manor, resided the remnant of a tribe of 
Indians, which had dwindled down to twenty persons, 
men, women, and children. Their chief, a venerable 
old man, who had assisted at the second treaty held 
with the Indian tribes by William Penn. more than 
sixty years before, had from that day lived on terms 
of friendship with his white neighbours, and he and 
his people had ever been distinguished for their peace- 

vol. i. 35 

274 LIFE OF FHANKLIN. [1763. 

able and inoffensive behaviour. The little village of 
huts, which they occupied, was surrounded in the 
night by fifty-seven armed men, who came on horse- 
back from two of the frontier townships, and every in- 
dividual then present was massacred in cold blood. 
The old chief was murdered in his bed. It happen- 
ed, that six persons only were at home, the other 
fourteen being absent among the surrounding whites. 
These Indians were collected by the magistrates of 
Lancaster, brought to the town, and put into the 
workhouse as the place of greatest safety. 

When the news of this atrocious act came to Phil- 
adelphia, the Governor issued a proclamation, calling 
on all justices, sheriffs, and other public officers civil 
and military, to make diligent search for the perpetra- 
tors of the crime, and cause them to be apprehended 
and confined in the jails, till they could be tried by 
the laws. In defiance of this proclamation, fifty of 
these barbarians, armed as before, marched into the 
town of Lancaster, broke open the door of the work- 
house, and deliberately murdered every Indian it con- 
tained ; and, strange as it may seem, the magistrates 
and other inhabitants were mute spectators of this 
scene of horror, without attempting to rescue the un- 
happy victims from their fate. Not one of the mur- 
derers was apprehended, the laws and the Governor's 
authority being alike disregarded. 

Such an outrage upon humanity, and so daring a 
violation of ail laws human and divine, could not but 
kindle the indignation of every benevolent mind, and 
fill with alarm every friend of social order. To ex- 
hibit the transaction in its proper colors before the 
public, Franklin wrote a Narrative of the late Massa- 
cres in Lancaster County ; usually called the Paxton 
Murders, because many of the rioters belonged to a 

^Et.58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 275 

frontier town of that name. After a brief and impres- 
sive relation of the facts, he cites examples from his- 
tory to show, that even heathens, in the rudest stages 
of civilization, had never tolerated such crimes as had 
here been perpetrated in the heart of a Christian 

Appealing to the inhabitants, he says ; " Let us 
rouse ourselves, for shame, and redeem the honor of 
our province from the contempt of its neighbours ; let 
ail good men join heartily and unanimously in support 
of the laws, and in strengthening the hands of gov- 
ernment; that justice may be done, the wicked pun- 
ished, and the innocent protected; otherwise we can, 
as a people, expect no blessing from Heaven ; there 
will be no security for our persons or properties; an- 
archy and confusion will prevail over all ; and violence 
without judgment dispose of every thing." The style 
of this pamphlet is more vehement and rhetorical, than 
is common in the author's writings, but it is charac- 
terized by the peculiar clearness and vigor which mark 
all his compositions. 

But neither the able exposure of the wickedness 
of the act, nor the eloquent and passionate appeal to 
the sensibilities of the people, contained in this per- 
formance, could stifle the spirit that was abroad, or 
check the fury with which it raged. The friendly In- 
dians throughout the province, some of whom had 
been converted to Christianity by the Moravians, were 
alarmed at this war of extermination waged against 
their race. One hundred and forty of them fled for 
protection to Philadelphia. For a time they were kept 
in safety on Province Island, near the city. When 
th« insurgents threatened to march down and put 
them all to death, the Assembly resolved to repel 
them by force. The fugitives were taken into the 
city, and secured in the barracks. 

276 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

There being no regular militia, Franklin, at the re- 
quest of the Governor, formed a military Association, 
as he had done on another occasion in a time of 
public danger. Nine companies were organized, and 
nearly a thousand citizens embodied themselves un- 
der arms. The insurgents advanced as far as Ger- 
mantown, within six miles of Philadelphia, where, hear- 
ing of the preparation that had been made to protect 
the Indians, they thought it prudent to pause. Tak- 
ing advantage of this crisis, the Governor and Coun- 
cil appointed Franklin and three other gentlemen to 
go out and meet them, and endeavour to turn them 
from their purpose. This mission was successful. Find- 
ing it impossible to carry their design into execution, 
they were at last prevailed upon to return peaceably 
to their homes. 

Two persons were deputed by the rioters, before 
they separated, to be the bearers of their complaints 
to the Governor and the Assembly. This was done 
by a memorial to the Governor in behalf of the in- 
habitants of the frontier settlements. Divers grievan- 
ces were enumerated, particularly the distresses they 
suffered from the savages, who had murdered defence- 
less families, and been guilty in numerous instances of 
the most barbarous cruelties. Much sophistry was used 
to extenuate, or rather to defend, the conduct of those, 
who, driven to desperation, had determined to make 
an indiscriminate slaughter of the Indians. It was al- 
leged, that the friendship of these Indians was only 
a pretence ; that they harboured traitors among them, 
who sent intelligence to the war parties and abetted 
their atrocities; that retaliation was justifiable, the war 
being against the Indians as a nation, of which every 
tribe and individual constituted a part. 

With such reasoning as this the multitude was sat- 

Mi. 58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 277 

isfied. Religious frenzy suggested another argument. 
Joshua had been commanded to destroy the heathen. 
The Indians were heathens ; hence there was a di- 
vine command to exterminate them. Another memo- 
rial, with fifteen hundred signatures, was sent to the 
Assembly. They were both referred to a committee, 
but, the Governor declining to support the measures 
recommended, no further steps were taken. 

The character and result of these extraordinary pro- 
ceedings show, in the first place, that the criminal 
outrages were approved by a large party in the prov- 
ince ; and next, that the government, either from want 
of intelligence and firmness in the head, or of union 
in the parts, was too feeble to execute justice and 
preserve public order. Great credit is due to the 
agency of Franklin, in stopping the tide of insurrec- 
tion and quieting the commotions. By his personal 
exertions and influence, as well as by his pen, he la- 
bored to strengthen the arm of government, diffuse 
correct sentiments among the people, and maintain 
■the supremacy of the laws. 

His duties, as a member of the board of commis- 
sioners for the disposal of the public money, in carry- 
ing on the war against the Indians, were arduous and 
faithfully performed. Colonel Bouquet commanded the 
army in Pennsylvania, consisting of regular troops and 
provincial levies. He applied to the Governor and 
commissioners for liberty to enlist more men, his ranks 
having been thinned by desertions. On this subject 
he wrote a letter to Franklin, containing a recital of 
his public services, which justly claims the reader's 
notice. It is dated at Fort Loudoun, August 22d, 

"My dependence was, as usual, upon you; and, in 
deed, had you not supported my request in the warm- 

vol. i. x 

278 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

est manner, it must have miscarried, and left me ex- 
posed to many inconveniences. Your conduct on this 
occasion does not surprise me, as I have not alone 
experienced the favorable effects of your readiness to 
promote the service. I know that General Shirley 
owed to you the considerable supply of provisions this 
government voted for his troops, besides warm cloth- 
ing ; that you alone could and did procure for Gener- 
al Braddock the carriages, without which he could not 
have proceeded on his expedition; that you had a 
road opened through this province to supply more 
easily his army with provisions, and spent a summer 
in those different services without any other reward, 
than the satisfaction of serving the public. And I am 
not unacquainted with the share you had in carry- 
ing safely through the House, at a very difficult time, 
the bill for sixty thousand pounds during Lord Lou- 
doun's command. But, without recapitulating instan- 
ces in which I was not directly concerned, I remem- 
ber gratefully, that as early as 1 756, when I was sent 
by Lord Loudoun to obtain quarters in Philadelphia 
for the first battalion of the Royal American Regi- 
ment, I could not have surmounted the difficulties 
made by your people, who, at that time unacquainted 
with the quartering of troops, expressed the greatest 
reluctance to comply with my request, till you were so 
good as to take the affair in hand, and obtain all that 
was desired. 

" I have not been less obliged to you in the execu- 
tion of the present act, having been an eyewitness of 
your forwardness to carry at the board, as a commis- 
sioner, every measure I proposed for the success of 
this expedition. This acknowledgment being the only 
return I can make, for the repeated services I have 
received from you in my public station, I beg you will 

Mr. 58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 279 

excuse my prolixity upon a subject so agreeable to 
myself, as the expression of my gratitude." 

In October, 1763, John Penn arrived in Pennsylva- 
nia, as successor to Governor Hamilton. Being con- 
nected by family ties with the Proprietaries, it was 
hoped that he was invested with larger discretionary 
powers, than had been intrusted to the late deputy- 
governors, and that he would be both enabled and 
disposed to administer the government in a manner 
better adapted to the condition, wants, and privileges 
of the people. 

He called the Assembly together by a special sum- 
mons, and his first message abounded in good wish- 
es and patriotic professions. It was received by the 
Assembly, as stated in their reply, "with the most 
cordial satisfaction." The session opened propitiously ; 
six hundred pounds were granted to the Governor 
towards his support for the first year ; and a vote was 
passed to raise, pay, and supply one thousand men, 
to be employed in the King's service during the ap- 
-proaching campaign against the western Indians. It 
was soon perceived, however, that the hope of a 
change in the temper and aims of the Proprietaries 
was not to be realized. The old controversies were 
revived, with as much warmth and pertinacity as ever, 
and with as little prospect of a reconciliation. Frank- 
lin, from the position he held, necessarily became a 
leader, on the side of the Assembly, in these new 

The recent disorders in the province convinced the 
Governor, that the civil power required a stronger 
support, than any that could then be brought to its 
aid. He recommended a militia law, by which the 
citizens might be embodied for their own protection 
and the public defence. The proposal was well re- 

280 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

ceived by the Assembly, and a committee was in- 
structed to frame a bill. Franklin was a member of 
this committee. A bill was reported, similar to the 
one which he had framed and carried through the 
House at the beginning of the late war. Each com- 
pany was allowed to choose three persons for each of 
the offices of captain, lieutenant, and ensign. Out of 
these three the Governor was to select and commis- 
sion the one he thought most proper. In like manner 
the officers of companies were to choose the officers 
of regiments, three for each office being recommend- 
ed to the Governor, any one of whom he might select 
and commission. Fines were imposed for offences, 
and the offenders were to be tried by judges and 
juries in the courts of law. 

In this shape the bill was passed, and presented to 
the Governor for his signature. He refused his as- 
sent, and returned it to the House with amendments, 
claiming to himself the sole appointment of officers, 
enhancing the amounts of the fines, requiring all tri- 
als to be by a court-martial, and making some offen- 
ces punishable by death. 

The Assembly would not for a moment listen to 
an assumption so dangerous to the liberties of the 
people. It was no less than putting the power of im- 
posing exorbitant fines, and even of inflicting the pun- 
ishment of death, into the hands of a set of officers 
depending on the Governor alone for their commis- 
sions, and responsible to him alone for the manner in 
which these were executed. The bill was according- 
ly lost. Dr. Franklin wrote and published an account 
of the proceedings, in relation to this militia bill, show- 
ing the causes of its failure, and the unjustifiable con- 
duct and designs of the proprietary party in the course 
they had taken to defeat it. 

Mt. 58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 281 

This was only the prelude to a more important dis- 
pute, in which the Governor contrived to embroil 
himself with the Assembly. Money was to be provid- 
ed for paying the expenses of the Indian war. It 
was proposed to raise fifty thousand pounds by emit- 
ting bills of credit ; and, for the redemption of these 
bills, a land tax, among other sources of revenue, was 
to be laid. Conformably to the decision of the King 
in Council, the proprietary lands were to be includ- 
ed in this tax. In one part of that decision the 
words were, " The located uncultivated lands of the 
Proprietaries shall not be assessed higher than the 
lowest rate, at which any located uncultivated lands 
belonging to the inhabitants shall be assessed." The 
Assembly understood this clause to mean, that the 
proprietary lands should not be rated higher, than 
lands of a similar quality belonging to other persons. 
The Governor, availing himself of an ambiguity in the 
language, gave it a different sense, insisting that all 
the proprietary lands, however good their quality, were 
.to be rated as low as the worst and least valuable 
lands belonging to the people. 

The Assembly replied, that, if it were possible to 
torture the clause into this meaning, it was neverthe- 
less a forced construction, unheard of before, contrary 
to justice, and discreditable to the Proprietaries, since 
it was bottomed on selfishness, and brought their in- 
terest in conflict with their honor. After much wran- 
gling and delay, the Assembly were obliged to wave 
their rights, and consent to the passage of the act 
on the Governor's terms. The savages were invading 
their borders, and the troops must be supported. 

These vexations exhausted the patience of the As- 
sembly. Convinced that they must continually fight 
the same battles over with the new Governor, and 

vol. i. 36 x* 

282 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

with every succeeding Governor appointed by the Pro- 
prietaries, they passed a series of resolves, just before 
their adjournment, stating the oppressions which the 
inhabitants of Pennsylvania suffered from their rulers, 
and expressing their belief, that peace and happiness 
could never be restored to the province, till the pow- 
er of governing it should be lodged in the crown. 
They then adjourned, for the avowed purpose of con- 
sulting their constituents on the subject of presenting 
a petition to the King, praying him to take the gov- 
ernment into his own hands. 

During the recess of the Assembly, Dr. Franklin 
wrote a tract, entitled Cool Thoughts on the Present 
Situation of Public Affairs, in which he described the 
evils of the Proprietary government, explained their 
causes, and came to the conclusion, that most of these 
evils were inherent in the nature of the government 
itself, and that the only remedy was a change, by 
substituting a royal government in its stead, "without 
the intervention of proprietary powers, which, like un- 
necessary springs and movements in a machine, are 
apt to produce disorder." This pamphlet was written 
with the design of drawing public attention to the 
Assembly's resolves, and of preparing the way for 
prompt and efficient action when the members should 
again convene. They came together on the 14th of 
May, after an adjournment of seven weeks. Numer- 
ous petitions to the King for a change of government, 
signed by more than three thousand of the inhabi- 
tants and coming from all parts of the province, were 
laid before them. 

Encouraged by this manifestation of public senti- 
ment, the House decided by a large majority to pro- 
mote and sustain the prayer of the petitioners. A peti- 
tion to the King from the Assembly, for the same object, 

Mt. 58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 283 

was accordingly drafted by Dr. Franklin. The de- 
bates were animated, both parties exerting their whole 
strength in the conflict. The majority in favor of 
the measure was so great, however, that the war of 
words produced no effect on the result. Yet some 
men wavered, who had hitherto stood firm. Among 
these was Mr. Norris, the Speaker, who had filled the 
chair many years, respected by all parties for his in- 
tegrity, abilities, and public spirit. He had acted stead- 
ily with those, who opposed the proprietary encroach- 
ments; but he looked for redress and amendment, 
rather than for a radical change ; and he was unwill- 
ing to affix his signature to the petition. He resign- 
ed his seat, and Franklin was chosen in his place; 
the petition passed the House, and was signed by 
him as Speaker. 

John Dickinson was another wavering member. 
He had disapproved the proprietary measures, but in 
this affair of the petition he was the champion of 
that party in the Assembly. His speech on the oc- 
. casion, eloquent and spirited, though more declam- 
atory than argumentative, was published, with a Pref- 
ace by another hand. The writer of the Preface in- 
dulged himself in a strain of personal invective and 
harsh reflection, never called for by a good cause, and 
rarely serviceable to a bad one. As a counterbalance 
to this pamphlet, Galloway, an able and popular lead- 
er on the other side, wrote out and published the 
speech he had delivered in reply to Dickinson. A 
Preface was contributed by Dr. Franklin, which, for 
sarcastic humor and force of argument, is one of the 
best of his performances. Perfectly master of his 
subject, and confident in his strength, he meets his 
opponents on their own ground, using his weapons 
in defence and assault with equal adroitness and self- 

284 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

One of the objections against a change of govern- 
ment gave some uneasiness even to those, who were 
bent upon that measure. The rights and privileges 
of the people, which they most valued, were secured 
by the charters; and, it was said, if the government 
should devolve on the King, he might take away the 
charters, or impose such restraints as would essentially 
abridge, if not annihilate, the freedom they then en- 

To this it could only be. replied, that such a thing 
was in the highest degree improbable ; that nothing 
more was asked of the King, than that he would, by 
fair purchase, obtain the jurisdiction of the province, 
thereby standing in the place of the Proprietaries; 
that William Penn had made some progress in nego- 
tiating such a sale to the crown before his death, 
and it could never have been his design to deprive 
the inhabitants of the charters, which had been grant- 
ed to them in good faith, and which had afforded the 
chief inducement to the settlers for purchasing and 
cultivating the lands. As a proof, that this confidence 
in the royal honor and magnanimity was not mis- 
placed, the example of other colonies was cited, where 
a similar change had been effected, without any in- 
jury to the charters or any abridgment of liberty. 

These views were plausible, but they were not such 
as to remove all doubts, even from the majority in the 
Assembly; for, when they forwarded the petitions to 
Mr. Jackson, their agent in London, they enjoined 
him to proceed with the utmost caution, securing to 
the inhabitants all the privileges, civil and religious, 
which they had hitherto enjoyed by their charters and 
laws ; and, in case he should apprehend any danger 
to these privileges, he was required to suspend fur- 
ther action, till he should receive additional directions 
from the Assembly. 

Mt. 58.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. _ 285 

At the next session, the most important business, 
which engaged the attention of the House, was the 
proposal of the British ministry to raise a revenue by 
stamp duties in the colonies. The Assembly of Penn- 
sylvania, participating in the excitement, which this 
intelligence had caused throughout the country, sent 
instructions to their agent in England, remonstrating 
against any such scheme, as tending to "deprive the 
people of their most essential rights as British sub- 
jects." The signing of these instructions was the last 
act of Dr. Franklin as Speaker of the House. 

The election in the autumn of this year, 1764, was 
sharply contested. It turned on the question of a 
change of government. The proprietary party, having 
much at stake, redoubled their efforts; and, in the 
city of Philadelphia and some of the counties, they 
were successful. Franklin, after having been chosen 
fourteen years successively, now lost his election, 
there being against him a majority of about twenty- 
five votes in four thousand. But, after all, it was an 
empty triumph. When the members convened, there 
were two to one in favor of the measures of the 
last Assembly, and they resolved to carry these meas- 
ures into effect. Being determined to pursue their 
object with all the force they could bring to bear up- 
on it, they appointed Dr. Franklin as a special agent 
to proceed to the court of Great Britain, and there 
to take charge of the petition for a change of govern- 
ment, and to manage the general affairs of the province. 

This appointment was a surprise upon the proprie- 
tary party. They had imagined, that, by defeating 
his election, they had rid themselves of an active and 
troublesome opponent in the Assembly, and weaken- 
ed his influence abroad. When it was proposed, there- 
fore, to raise him to a situation, in which he could 

286 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

more effectually than ever serve the same cause, the 
agitation in the House, and the clamor out of doors, 
were extreme. 

His adversaries testified their chagrin by the means 
they used to prevent his appointment. Even John 
Dickinson, while he could not refrain from eulogiz- 
ing him as a man, inveighed strenuously against his 
political principles and conduct ; at the same time ex- 
hibiting symptoms of alarm, that would seem almost 
ludicrous, if it were not known what power there is 
in the spirit of party to distort truth and pervert the 
judgment. " The gentleman proposed," he says, in 
a speech to the House, " has been called here to-day 
'a great luminary of the learned world.' Far be it 
from me to detract from the merit I admire. Let 
him still shine, but without wrapping his country in 
flames. Let him, from a private station, from a small- 
er sphere, diffuse, as I think he may, a beneficial 
light; but let him not be made to move and blaze 
like a comet to terrify and distress." Not satis- 
fied with lavishing abuse upon him in debate, his 
enemies procured a remonstrance to be drawn up and 
signed by many of their adherents in the city, which 
was presented to the Assembly. Such an attempt 
to prejudice the representatives, or bias their pro- 
ceedings, was not likely to have any other effect on 
his friends, than to excite their indignation, and unite 
them more firmly in his favor. 

The remonstrants, failing in the Assembly, pub- 
lished their objections in the form of a Protest. As 
it was now too late to change what had been done, 
no practical end could be answered by this publica- 
tion. Hence it may be ascribed to other motives, 
than solicitude for the public welfare. It was object- 
ed, that Dr. Franklin had been the chief author of 

Mt.58.] life of franklin. 287 

the late measures for a change of government. Al- 
lowing this to be true, it was so far from being an 
objection in the opinion of his friends, that it afforded 
one of the best reasons for intrusting to him the 
prosecution of those measures. It was further ob- 
jected, that he was not in favor with the ministers, 
that he stood on ill terms with the Proprietaries, and 
that he w 7 as extremely disagreeable to a large number 
of the inhabitants of the province; all of which, as 
declared by the protesters, disqualified him for the 
agency he w^as about to undertake. 

He wrote remarks on these charges, just before his 
departure for England, examining them in detail, re- 
plying to each, and saying at the conclusion; "I am 
now to take leave, perhaps a last leave, of the country 
I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part 
of my life. Eslo perpetna, I wish every kind of pros- 
perity to my friends ; and I forgive my enemies." This 
forgiveness he could the more easily bestow 7 , since his 
enemies, with all their industrious efforts to defame 
and injure him as a public man, had never insinuated 
a suspicion unfavorable to his private reputation or 
his character as a citizen. 

There being no money in the treasury, that could 
be immediately appropriated to defray the agent's ex- 
penses, the Assembly voted, that these expenses should 
be provided for in the next bill that should be passed 
for raising money. Upon the strength of this pledge, 
the merchants, in two hours, subscribed eleven hundred 
pounds as a loan to the public for this object. On 
the 7th of November, only twelve days after his ap- 
pointment, Franklin left Philadelphia, accompanied by 
a cavalcade of three hundred citizens, wdio attended 
him to Chester, where he w T as to go on board the 
vessel. "The affectionate leave taken of me by so 

288 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1764. 

many dear friends at Chester," said he, " was very en- 
dearing; God bless them and all Pennsylvania." He 
sailed the next day, but the vessel was detained over 
night at Reedy Island in the Delaware. At that place 
he wrote a letter to his daughter, from which the 
following is an extract. 

"My dear child, the natural prudence and goodness 
of heart God has blessed you with, make it less ne- 
cessary for me to be particular in giving, you advice. 
I shall therefore only say, that the more attentively du- 
tiful and tender you are towards your good mamma, 
the more you will recommend yourself to me. But 
why should I mention me, when you have so much 
higher a promise in the commandments, that such 
conduct will recommend you to the favor of God. 
You know I have many enemies, all indeed on the 
public account, (for I cannot recollect, that I have in a 
private capacity given just cause of offence to any one 
whatever,) yet they are enemies, and very bitter ones ; 
and you must expect their enmity will extend in some 
degree to you, so that your slightest indiscretions will 
be magnified into crimes, in order the more sensibly 
to wound and afflict me. It is, therefore, the more 
necessary for you to be extremely circumspect in all 
your behaviour, that no advantage may be given to 
their malevolence. 

" Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The 
act of devotion in the Common Prayer Book is your 
principal business there, and, if properly attended to, 
will do more towards amending the heart than ser- 
mons generally can do. For they were composed by 
men of much greater piety and wisdom, than our com- 
mon composers of sermons can pretend to be ; and 
therefore I wish you would never miss the prayer 
days ; yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, 


even, of the preachers you dislike ; for the discourse is 
often much better than the man, as sweet and clear 
waters come through very dirty earth. I am the more 
particular on this head, as you seemed to express, a 
little before I came away, some inclination to leave our 
church, which I would not have you do." 

After a tempestuous voyage of thirty days, he land- 
ed at Portsmouth, and proceeded immediately to Lon- 
don, where he again took lodgings at Mrs. Steven- 
son's in Craven Street. When the news of his safe 
arrival came back to Philadelphia, his friends celebrat- 
ed the event by the ringing of bells and other dem- 
onstrations of joy. 

vol. i. 37 

290 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1765. 


Origin of the Stamp Act. — Franklin's Opposition to it. — His Remarks 
on the' Passage of the Act, in a Letter to Charles Thomson. — False 
Charges against him in Relation to this Subject. — Dean Tucker. — 
Effects of the Stamp Act in America. — Franklin's Examination be- 
fore Parliament. — Stamp Act repealed. — Mr. Pitt. — Declaratory 
Act. — American Paper Currency. — Franklin's Answer to Lord Hills- 
borough's Report against it. — New Scheme for taxing the Colonies 
by supplying them with Paper Money. — Franklin travels in Holland 
and Germany. — His Ideas of the Nature of the Union between the 
Colonies and Great Britain. — Plan of a Colonial Representation in 
Parliament. — Franklin visits Paris. — His " Account of the Causes of 
the American Discontents." — Change of Ministry. — Lord Hillsborough 
at the Head of the American Department. — Rumor that Dr. Franklin 
was to have an Office under him. 

Henceforth we are to pursue the career of Frank- 
lin on a broader theatre of action. Although he went 
to England as a special agent for Pennsylvania, yet 
circumstances soon led him to take an active and con- 
spicuous part in the general affairs of the colonies. 
The policy avowed by the British government after 
the treaty of Paris, and the fruits of that policy in 
new restrictions on the colonial trade, had already 
spread discontent throughout the country. The threat- 
ened measure of the Stamp Act had contributed to 
increase this discontent, and fix it more deeply in the 
hearts of the people. The colonies were unanimous 
in remonstrating against this new mode of taxation, as 
hostile to the liberties of Englishmen, and an invasion 
of the charter rights, which had been granted to 
them, and which they had hitherto enjoyed. 

The Assembly of Pennsylvania, entertaining this view 
of the subject, in common with all the other assem- 
blies on the continent, instructed Dr. Franklin to use 
his efforts, in behalf of the province, to prevent the 

Mt. 59.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 291 

passage of the act. The first steps he took for this 
object, as well as the origin of the measure itself, 
are briefly explained by him in a letter written some 
years afterwards to Mr. William Alexander. It is dat- 
ed at Passy, March 12th, 1778. 

"In the pamphlet you were so kind as to lend me, 
there is one important fact misstated, apparently from 
the writer's not having been furnished with good in- 
formation ; it is the transaction between Mr. Grenville 
and the colonies, wherein he understands, that Mr. 
Grenville demanded of them a specific sum, that they 
refused to grant any thing, and that it was on their 
refusal only, that he made the motion for the Stamp 
Act. No one of these particulars is true. The fact 
was this. 

" Some time in the winter of 1 763 - 4, Mr. Grenville 
called together the agents of the several colonies, and 
told them, that he proposed to draw a revenue from 
America, and to that end his intention was to levy 
a stamp duty on the colonies by act of Parliament in 
the ensuing session, of which he thought it fit that 
they should be immediately acquainted, that they might 
have time to consider, and, if any other duty equally 
productive would be more agreeable to them, they 
might let him know it. The agents were therefore 
directed to write this to their respective Assemblies, 
and communicate to him the answers they should re- 
ceive; the agents wrote accordingly. 

"I was a member in the Assembly of Pennsylvania 
when this notification came to hand. The observa- 
tions there made upon it were, that the ancient, es- 
tablished, and regular method of drawing aids from 
the colonies was this. The occasion was always first 
considered by their sovereign in his privy council, by 
whose sage advice he directed his secretary of state 

292 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1765. 

to write circular letters to the several governors, who 
were directed to lay them before their Assemblies. In 
those letters the occasion was explained for their sat- 
isfaction, with gracious expressions of his Majesty's 
confidence in their known duty and affection, on which 
he relied, that they would grant such sums as should 
be suitable to their abilities, loyalty, and zeal for his 
service. That the colonies had always granted lib- 
erally on such requisitions, and so liberally during the 
late war, that the King, sensible they had granted much 
more than their proportion, had recommended it to 
Parliament, five years successively, to make them some 
compensation, and the Parliament accordingly returned 
them two hundred thousand pounds a year, to be di- 
vided among them. That the proposition of taxing 
them in Parliament was therefore both cruel and unjust. 
That, by the constitution of the colonies, their business 
was with the King, in matters of aid ; they had nothing 
to do with any financier, nor he with them ; nor were 
the agents the proper channels through which requisi- 
tions should be made; it was therefore improper for 
them to enter in any stipulation, or make any pro- 
position, to Mr. Grenville about laying taxes on their 
constituents by Parliament, which had really no right 
at all to tax them, especially as the notice he had sent 
them did not appear to be by the King's order, and 
perhaps was without his knowledge; as the King, 
when he would obtain any thing from them, always 
accompanied his requisition with good words ; but this 
gentleman, instead of a decent demand, sent them a 
menace, that they should certainly be taxed, and only 
left them the choice of the manner. But, all this not- 
withstanding, they were so far from refusing to grant 
money, that they resolved to the following purpose ; 
That, as they always had, so they always should think 

Mr. 59.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 293 

it their duty to grant aid to the crown, according to 
their abilities, whenever required of them in the usual 
constitutional manner.' 

"I went soon after to England, and took with me 
an authentic copy of this resolution, which I present- 
ed to Mr. Grenville before he brought in the Stamp 
Act. I asserted in the House of Commons (Mr. Gren- 
ville being present), that I had done so, and he did 
not deny it. Other colonies made similar resolutions. 
And, had Mr. Grenville, instead of that act, applied 
to the King in Council for such requisitional letters to 
be circulated by the secretary of state, I am sure he 
would have obtained more money from the colonies 
by their voluntary grants, than he himself expected 
from his stamps. But he chose compulsion rather 
than persuasion, and would not receive from their good 
will what he thought He could obtain without it. And 
thus the golden bridge, which the ingenious author 
thinks the Americans unwisely and unbecomingly re 
fused to hold out to the minister and Parliament, was 
actually held out to them, but they refused to walk 
over it. This is the true history of that transaction; 
and, as it is probable there may be another edition 
of that excellent pamphlet, I wish this may be com- 
municated to the candid author, who, I doubt not, 
will correct that error." 

It is here to be observed, that the alternative al- 
lowed by the minister was, that the colonists might 
either submit to a stamp duty, or suggest some other 
tax, which should yield an equal amount to the rev- 
enue. At all events, the tax was to be levied by 
Parliament. The proposal in both forms was univer- 
sally rejected by the colonists, who denied that Par- 
liament had any right to tax them, since they were 
not represented in that body; it being a fundamental 

294 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1765. 

principle of the British Constitution, that no man shall 
be taxed except by himself or his representatives. It 
was affirmed, that this principle, constituting the bul- 
wark of British freedom, recognised in the colonial 
charters, and confirmed by numerous laws which had 
received the King's assent, could not now be violated 
without an exercise of power, as unjust and tyrannical 
as it was unprecedented. But the ministry had formed 
their plans, and were not in a humor to recede. The 
Stamp Act was passed, notwithstanding the remon- 
strances of the American Assemblies, and the stren- 
uous opposition of all their agents in London. 

Some time after this event, Dr. Franklin wrote as 
follows to Charles Thomson. "Depend upon it, my 
good neighbour, I took every step in my power to 
prevent the passing of the • Stamp Act. Nobody could 
be more concerned and interested than myself to op- 
pose it sincerely and heartily. But the tide was too 
strong against us. The nation was provoked by Amer- 
ican claims of independence, and all parties joined by 
resolving in this act to settle the point. We might as 
well have hindered the sun's setting. That we could 
not do. But since it is down, my friend, and it may 
be long before it rises again, let us make as good a 
night of it as we can. We may still light candles. 
Frugality and industry will go a great way towards 
indemnifying us. Idleness and pride tax with a heav- 
ier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get 
rid of the former, we may easily get rid of the latter." * 

* This letter was dated in London, July 11th, 1765. Charles Thom- 
son said, in his answer; "The sun of liberty is indeed fast setting-, if 
not down already, in the American colonies. But I much fear, instead 
of the candles you mention being lighted, you will hear of the works 
of darkness. They are in general alarmed to the last degree. The 
colonies expect, and with reason expect, that some regard shall be had 
to their liberties and privileges, as well as trade. They cannot bring 

jEt.59.] life of franklin. 295 

Dr. Franklin's political enemies in Pennsylvania 
spread a rumor, that he approved the Stamp Act. 
A gentleman in London hearing of this report, wrote 
to his correspondent in Philadelphia ; " I can safely as- 
sert, from my own personal knowledge, that Dr. Frank- 
lin did all in his power to prevent the Stamp Act from 
passing; that he waited on the ministry to inform 
them fully of its mischievous tendency ;- and that he 
has uniformly opposed it to the utmost of his ability." 
This rumor was set afloat for party purposes, and 
was propagated by those, who wished to lessen his 
credit and growing popularity in the province. The 
end was not gained. On the contrary, when his ex- 
ertions against this "mother of mischiefs," as he call- 
ed the Stamp Act, became known, and the motives 
of his enemies in giving countenance to such a charge 
were understood, the popular voice was more loud 
than before in his favor, and the public confidence 
in his character and patriotism was increased. 

Dr. Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, in a treatise pub- 

themselves to believe, nor can they see how England with reason or 
justice expects, that they should have encountered the horrors of a 
desert, borne the attacks of barbarous savages, and, at the expense of 
their blood and treasure, settled this country to the great emolument of 
England, and, after all, quietly submit to be deprived of every thing an 
Englishman has been taught to hold dear. It is not property only we 
contend for. Our liberty and most essential privileges are struck at." 
Other parts of this letter are contained in the Pennsylvania Gazette, of 
March 6th, 1766, where the extract above quoted, and Thomson's reply, 
were first published. See also the American Quarterly Review, Vol. 
XVIII. p. 92. The extract from Franklin's letter is inaccurately printed 
in the Gazette, there being omissions and additions. The changes were 
probably made by his correspondent, or the editor, to suit the occasion. 
It was printed without the author's name, and of course without his 
knowledge, as he was then absent in England. Historians, following 
Dr. Gordon, have quoted the passage still less accurately. When the 
author speaks of the " American claims of independence," he alludes 
to the claim of the colonists to an independence of Parliament in 
regard to taxation, which was now the subject of dispute. 

296 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1765. 

lished by him on the colonial troubles, reiterated the 
same false charge, and added, that Dr. Franklin even 
solicited for himself the office of stamp-distributor in 
America. When this strange assertion fell under the 
eyes of Franklin, he wrote to the Dean, demanding 
an explanation. The Dean's reply was awkward and 
unsatisfactory. He had heard it often reported, that 
Dr. Franklin applied for a place in the distribution of 
stamps; he drew the inference, that the place was 
solicited for himself ; and this inference Tie had con- 
verted into a fact. So much he was constrained to 
confess ; whereas, upon further inquiry, he could find 
no positive proof of the charge, though there was evi- 
dence of Dr. Franklin's having applied in favor of an- 
other person. This latter circumstance, in the Dean's 
opinion, was a sufficient vindication of his conduct, 
since it appeared to him " very immaterial to the gen- 
eral merits of the question," whether he had solicited 
for himself or for a friend. 

To correct this distorted and disingenuous view of 
the subject, Dr. Franklin communicated to him the 
particulars of the transaction, which are briefly these. 
Not long after the Stamp Act was passed, Mr. Gren- 
ville called the colonial agents together, and, by his 
secretary, requested them to name such persons in 
the respective colonies, as they thought were qualified 
for the office of stamp-distributor, and as would be 
acceptable to the inhabitants, saying, that he did not 
design to send these officers over from England, but 
to select them from among the people, who were to 
pay the tax. Each agent accordingly nominated an 
individual for the province he represented. Dr. Frank- 
lin named for Pennsylvania Mr. John Hughes, who re- 
ceived the appointment. 

Here we have the substance of all that he did in 

Mr. 59.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 297 

this business, which was misrepresented at the time, 
and artfully turned to his disadvantage. Neither he, 
nor any of the agents, had the least suspicion, that 
they were to be considered as approving the Stamp 
Act, because they had complied with the minister's re- 
quest in making these nominations. In fact, they had 
opposed it at every step, and, the act being passed, 
they could not foresee the hostility it was destined to 
encounter in America; nor could they, with common 
prudence, set up a resistance against it without know- 
ing the will of their constituents, thereby weakening, 
if not destroying, their influence at the British court 
at a time when it was most needed, and jeoparding 
the interests they were bound to protect. * 

The news of the passage of the Stamp Act pro- 
duced a universal excitement in America. The As- 
semblies, as soon as they came together, passed reso- 
lutions in which the act was declared to be iniquitous, 
oppressive, and without precedent in the annals of 
British legislation. The same tone and temper, the 
same firmness of purpose, and the same enthusiastic 
attachment to their liberties, pervaded them all. Yet 
their public proceedings were marked with decorum 
and moderation. They were resolute in proclaiming 
their rights, and their determination to preserve them 
unimpaired. The authority of the British government, 
within its former just limits, was acknowledged. Their 
resolves were pointed and strong, but respectful in 
temper and language. To procure a repeal of the 
Stamp Act was the immediate- object, and, to effect 
this, petitions were sent from all quarters to the agents 

* See the correspondence between Dr. Franklin and Dr. Tucker, 
Vol. IV. pp. 516-525. In a subsequent edition of his tract, the Dean 
corrected, in part, his erroneous assertion, but in such a manner as left 
him little credit for candor or magnanimity. 

vol. i. 38 

298 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

in London, with instructions to have them laid before 
the King and Parliament. 

While the Assemblies were thus engaged, the peo- 
ple testified their sentiments in a different manner. 
They showed their resentment particularly against the 
distributors of stamps, officers odious in their sight, as 
having consented to be agents in executing the de- 
tested act. By riots, mobs, burning in effigy, threats, 
and violent assaults, they compelled every stamp offi- 
cer in the country to resign his commission, and to 
declare publicly, that he would not act in his office. 
The people's wrath was kindled against the stamped 
paper, as if it were fraught with the seeds of a pesti- 
lence, or a contagious poison. They resolved, that the 
American soil should never be contaminated by its 
touch ; and, when it arrived, the governors and other 
principal officers were forced to keep it on board- armed 
vessels in the harbours, till it was finally all sent back 
to England. 

Such was the state of things in America, when the 
subject was again brought before Parliament, at the 
beginning of the year 1766. In the mean time, there 
had been a change of ministry, Mr. Grenville giving 
place to the Marquis of Rockingham. The petitions 
of the colonies were laid on the table, and left there 
unnoticed ; but, as they had generally been published, 
their contents were well known, and the new minis- 
try came to a resolution to advise a repeal of the act. 

The subject was discussed with great warmth on 
both sides of the House. While the debates were in 
progress, Dr. Franklin was called before Parliament, 
to be examined respecting the state of affairs in Amer- 
ica. This motion probably originated with the minis- 
ters, who were now striving for a repeal of the act, 
and was seconded by Dr. Franklin's friends, who had 

Mr. 60.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 299 

confidence in the result; but he was questioned in 
the presence of a full House by various individuals of 
both parties, including the late ministers ; and his an- 
swers were given without premeditation, and without 
knowing beforehand the nature or form of the ques- 
tion that was to be put. The dignity of his bearing, 
his self-possession, the promptness and propriety with 
which he replied to each interrogatory, the profound 
knowledge he displayed upon every topic presented 
to him, his perfect acquaintance with the political con- 
dition and internal affairs of his country, the fearless- 
ness with which he defended the late doings of his 
countrymen, and censured the measures of Parliament, 
his pointed expressions and characteristic manner ;' all 
these combined to rivet the attention, and excite the 
astonishment, of his audience. And, indeed, there is 
no event in this great man's life, more creditable to 
his talents and character, or more honorable to his 
fame, than this examination before the British Parlia- 
ment. It is an enduring monument of his wisdom, 
firmness, sagacity, and patriotism. 

s When he was asked, whether the Americans would 
pay the stamp duty if it w r ere moderated, he an- 
swered; "No, never, unless compelled by force of 
arms." Again, when it was inquired how the Amer- 
icans would receive another tax, imposed upon the 
same principles, he said, "Just as they do this; they 
will never pay it." And again, he was asked wheth- 
er the Americans would rescind their resolutions, if 
the Stamp Act were repealed. To this he replied ; 
"No, never; they will never do it unless compelled 
by force of arms." He was also questioned, ast to the 
non-importation agreements, and asked whether the 
Americans would not soon become tired of them, and 
fall back to purchasing British manufactures as before. 

300 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

He said he did not believe they would; that he 
knew his countrymen ; that they had materials, and 
industry to work them up ; that they could make 
their own clothes, and would make them ; that they 
loved liberty, and would maintain their rights. The 
examination was closed with the two following ques- 
tions and answers. "What used to be the pride of 
the Americans?" He answered; "To indulge in the 
fashions and manufactures of Great Britain." "What 
is now their pride?" Answer; "To wear their old 
clothes over again till they can make new ones." 

After much stormy debate in Parliament, the Stamp 
Act was repealed; but, as if unwilling to do their 
work thoroughly, or fearing that they should concede 
too much, they accompanied the repeal with a dec- 
laration, which never ceased to rankle in the hearts 
of the colonists. They passed what was called a 
Declaratory Act, in which it was affirmed, that " Parlia- 
ment had a right to bind the colonies in all cases 
whatsoever" It was said at the time, that the parti- 
sans of the ministers were driven to this act by the 
indiscreet warmth of Mr. Pitt, who openly denied the 
right of Parliament to tax the colonies in any manner, 
and said, in the course of his speech, " i" am glad 
America has resisted." Such a doctrine as this, from 
so high a source, was not to be tolerated; and, to 
make amends for its having been uttered in Parlia- 
ment, the members opposed to him hit upon the de- 
vice of declaring solemnly, that they had a right, not 
only to tax, but to do what else they pleased. Lord 
Mansfield, who was against the repeal of the Stamp 
Act, said in the House of Lords, that this declaration 
amounted to nothing, and that it was a poor contri- 
vance to save the dignity of Parliament. 

But, whatever may have been the origin or design 

I .WeMi. 


■ RJndra 



Mt. 60.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 301 

of the Declaratory Act, it was looked upon as a so- 
ber reality and with great concern by the colonists. 
If Parliament could declare, it was natural to suppose, 
that, when occasion offered, they would act according- 
ly ; and taxing was one of the least evils they might 
inflict, if they chose to exercise their assumed sove- 
reign power. What should prevent them from putting 
an end to the very existence of the colonial govern- 
ments, and annihilating every right they possessed ? 
According to this doctrine, not only the property, but 
the liberty, and even the life, of every American were 
held at the will of Parliament; a body always agitated 
by party strifes, moving at the beck of a minister, 
and irresponsible to any power for the tyranny it might 
exercise over distant colonists, who had no represen- 
tatives in Parliament to defend their cause or vindi- 
cate their rights. 

It is no wonder, that such a doctrine, maintained 
with great unanimity by the British lawgivers, should 
excite the astonishment and indignation of the Amer- 
icans. The result proved, that their fears were not 
groundless; for they were soon taught to understand 
and to feel, that the Declaratory Act was meant to be 
more than a form of words, or a mere expression of 

The joy diffused by the repeal of the Stamp Act, 
however, quieted for a time all uneasiness. No one, 
who reads Dr. Franklin's Examination, as it was af- 
terwards published, can doubt, that he performed a 
very important and effective part in promoting this 
measure. The facts he communicated, drawn from his 
long experience and knowledge of American affairs, 
and the sentiments he expressed concerning the de- 
signs and character of his countrymen, were many 
of them new to his hearers, and were conveyed in 

VOL. I. Z 

302 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

language so clear and forcible, as to make a deep 
impression. Moreover, his personal endeavours with 
men in power and men of influence, wherever he 
met them, were unremitted. His services were well 
known and properly valued in London, by those who 
sought to bring about the repeal. Letters were writ- 
ten to his friends by gentlemen acquainted with the 
particulars, acknowledging and applauding these ser- 
vices ; and when the repeal of the Stamp Act was cele- 
brated by a public festivity- at Philadelphia, his name 
was honored with unusual expressions of respect and 

Another subject engaged much of his attention for 
some time after his arrival in England. The late war 
had occasioned derangement in the American paper 
currency, and the British merchants had raised a clam- 
or against it, which was sustained by a Report of the 
Board of Trade, written by Lord Hillsborough, re- 
commending that any further emission of paper bills 
of credit in the colonies, as a legal tender, should be 
prohibited. Franklin answered this Report by a se- 
ries of cogent arguments, interspersed with illustra- 
tive facts and remarks respecting the American paper 
money, and its effects on the trade and internal pros- 
perity of the country. He had written a tract on 
this subject when he was twenty-three years old, in 
which he advanced some of the doctrines in political 
economy, that were afterwards more fully unfolded by 
Adam Smith, as essential elements of his theory. 

The history of the colonial paper currency is curi- 
ous and interesting. Before the Revolution there were 
no banks in the country, resembling the institutions 
since known by that name. Bills of credit, issued 
from time to time by the Assemblies, constituted the 
only paper medium in use for circulation. The gold 

^t. 60.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 303 

and silver coin found its way to England, as a remit- 
tance for British manufactures, and its place was sup- 
plied by these bills, which were sometimes necessary 
and always convenient. Indeed, when an emergency 
came, such as a French or an Indian war, there was 
no other way of raising large sums of money than 
by emissions of paper. 

Various methods were adopted by the different col- 
onies, but the one practised in Pennsylvania was con- 
sidered the best. A certain amount of paper was 
emitted for a given time, say ten years, at the ex- 
piration of which it was all to be redeemed. The 
paper was put into circulation in the form of .loans 
to individuals, secured by mortgages on land. One 
tenth of each loan was to be paid back annually by 
the borrower, with the interest at five per cent. Thus, 
at the end of the ten years, the whole had been re- 
turned to the loan offices and redeemed ; the gov- 
ernment having gained the interest during that time, 
and the community having received the benefit of the 
circulation. The paper w T as made a legal tender for 
the payment of debts, and it generally maintained its 
original value, with slight fluctuations caused by the 
rise of gold and silver, when a larger quantity of these 
metals than usual was wanted for exportation. 

In some of the other colonies the paper was emitted 
merely on the credit of the government, certain tax- 
es being pledged for redeeming it within a limited 
time. This security was not sufficient to gain the 
public confidence, although supported by the legal ten- 
der, and the bills fell in value. The evil was increased 
by forced emissions beyond the quantity required as 
a circulating medium, and also by the remissness of 
the Assemblies in collecting the taxes, or by their ap- 
propriating these taxes to other objects. In Virginia, 

304 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

likewise, the value of the bills fluctuated according to 
the more or less abundant crops of tobacco, which 
was the chief commodity of trade in that province. 
At length the British merchants, finding it difficult to 
collect . their American debts, ascribed the cause to the 
depreciation of the local currency, and used their in- 
fluence with the ministers to procure an act of Par- 
liament restraining emissions, with a legal tender, in all 
the colonies. They carried their point, and such an 
act was passed. 

The restraint was considered onerous and inequi- 
table in Pennsylvania, where the paper money had 
always been so managed as to keep its value nearly at 
par, and the Assembly petitioned Parliament for a re- 
peal of the act. Dr. Franklin presented the petition, 
and, having brought over the merchants to join with 
him in the application, he urged it so effectively, that 
the ministers agreed to favor the measure. 

He found it necessary, however, first to dispossess 
them of a notion, which they had taken up, and 
which he looked upon as threatening more mischief 
to the colonies, than the prohibition of the legal ten- 
der. They were meditating a project for drawing a 
revenue from the colonial paper money, by retaining 
the interest derived from it to be appropriated by 
Parliament. He assured them, that no colony would 
emit money on such terms, and advanced other rea- 
sons against the plan, which seemed to convince them, 
that it was impolitic if not impracticable. But when 
Parliament assembled, the subject was introduced in 
a new and still more objectionable form. The chan- 
cellor of the exchequer, Mr. Townshend, after he had 
proposed an American revenue by duties on glass, 
paper, tea, and some other articles, said he had an- 
other proposition to offer, and that a bill would be 


prepared for the purpose. By his scheme all the pa- 
per money for the colonies was to be made by the 
British government in London, sent over to America, 
deposited in loan-offices there, and then issued on in- 
terest precisely according to the Pennsylvania method. 
The whole amount of the interest was to be paid into 
the British treasury. 

In its principles this scheme was exactly the same 
as the Stamp Act. It aimed to impose a direct tax 
on the colonies by a law of Parliament, and also to 
take away from the Assemblies all power over their 
currency. Foreseeing the consequences, and wishing 
to remove every ground for such a proceeding on the 
score of complaints from the colonies, Dr. Franklin 
thought it prudent not to press the petition any fur- 
ther at that time. 

Shortly afterwards he wrote; "I am not for apply- 
ing here again very soon for a repeal of the restrain- 
ing act. I am afraid an ill use will be made of it. 
The plan of our adversaries is, to render Assemblies 
in America useless, and to have a revenue, indepen- 
dent of their grants, for all the purposes of their defence 
and supporting governments among them. It is our 
interest to prevent this. And, that they may not lay 
hold of our necessities for paper money, to draw a 
revenue from that article whenever they grant us the 
liberty we want, of making it a legal tender, I wish 
some other method may be fallen upon of supporting 
its credit." He therefore recommended the experi- 
ment of paper money not a legal tender, which had 
been already begun by the Pennsylvanians upon a 
small scale; and he also intimated, that a bank might 
be established, which would answer the desired pur- 
pose. This latter plan, however, was never resort- 
ed to, either by Pennsylvania or any other province. 

vol. i. 39 z * 

306 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

Mr. Townshend's project was dropped. If the new- 
duties had been submitted to, the tax on paper money 
would probably have followed. 

In the summer of 1766, Dr. Franklin went over to 
Germany, accompanied by Sir John Pringle, who spent 
some time at Pyrmont for the benefit of the waters. 
Franklin made a more extended journey; but little is 
known of it, except that he visited Gottingen, Hano- 
ver, and some of the principal cities and universities 
on the continent, and returned to London after an ab- 
sence of eight weeks. During this tour he learned 
from the boatmen in Holland, that boats propelled by 
an equal force move more slowly in shoal than in 
deep water. He afterwards performed a variety of 
experiments to prove and illustrate this fact, which 
he considered important in the construction of canals. 
The results of these experiments, with an explanation 
of them on philosophical principles, he communicated 
in a letter to Sir John Pringle. 

The main business of his mission to England, which 
was to prosecute the petition for a change of the 
government in Pennsylvania, received his early and 
continued attention. The ministers listened to the ap- 
plication so far, as to raise encouraging hopes of 
its ultimate success. As the change, desired by the 
Pennsylvanians, was such as to enlarge the authority 
of the crown in that province, there was no reluc- 
tance on the part of the administration to agree to an 
arrangement, whenever it could be done consistently 
with the proprietary claims. It was proposed, that 
the government should purchase of the Proprietaries 
their right of jurisdiction, leaving them in possession 
of the lands and other property belonging to them in 
the province. The affair was discussed from time to 
time ; but the increasing disorders in the colonies, and 

Mt. 60.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 307 

the resistance to acts of Parliament, in which the 
Pennsylvanians joined as heartily as any of their neigh- 
bours, prevented its being brought to an issue till the 
war broke out. If quiet had been restored, by estab- 
lishing the relations between the two countries on the 
old footing, as they stood before the Stamp Act, which 
was demanded by the colonists, the change would 
doubtless have been effected. 

Recent events led to the investigation of a subject, 
which had hitherto been little considered, because no 
occasion had arisen for calling it into notice. An in- 
quiry began to be made, on both sides of the At- 
lantic, into the principles by which the people of, the 
two countries were bound together, and the recipro- 
cal duties involved in this union. Franklin devoted 
his thoughts with great earnestness to this inquiry, 
and, after a full examination, expressed his sentiments 
decidedly and without reserve. The first settlers came 
to America by permission of the King ; certain rights 
and privileges were granted to them by royal char- 
ters ; they were allowed to have Assemblies of their 
own, and to pass laws not repugnant to the laws of 
England ; these laws might be confirmed or annulled 
by the King; suits arising in the colonies, whenever 
transferred to the mother country, were decided by 
the King in Council. Parliament had never been 
consulted in making the charters, nor had any author- 
ity been reserved to that body over them, in regard 
to the terms upon which they were conferred; and, 
indeed, Parliament had taken no notice of the colo- 
nies, till a long time after their settlement. Besides, 
the emigrants did not remove to a conquered country ; 
they purchased the soil of the natives with their own 
means; nor did they ever put the British govern- 
ment to the expense of a farthing, either for their remo- 
val or their establishment in an unexplored wilderness. 

308 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1766. 

The power over commerce was naturally lodged in 
Parliament, because the laws regulating commerce ne- 
cessarily extended to the whole empire ; and for this 
reason the colonists had yielded obedience to the 
commercial restrictions, although they had sometimes 
been oppressive. But the internal affairs of the colo- 
nies were under the control of the laws passed by the 
Assemblies, subject only to the King's negative ; and, 
whenever Parliament had meddled with these affairs, 
it was a usurpation, exercised contrary to justice and 
to early usage. He considered the mother country 
and colonies to be connected as England and Scot- 
land were before the union, each having its Assem- 
bly, or Parliament, under the King as a common 
sovereign. "The British empire," said he, "is not a 
single state ; it comprehends many ; and, though the 
Parliament of Great Britain has arrogated to itself the 
power of taxing the colonies, it has no more right to 
do so, than it has to tax Hanover. We have the 
same King, but not the same legislatures." 

These doctrines he sustained by arguments drawn 
from history, and from well established principles in 
the British and colonial constitutions. He communi- 
cated them freely to his friends in both countries. 
Governor Hutchinson complains, that they produced 
an influence in Massachusetts unfavorable to the min- 
isterial schemes; that "he corresponded with the prin- 
cipal advocates of the controversy with Parliament in 
Boston, from the first stir about the Stamp Act, and 
they professed, in all the. important parts of it, to gov- 
ern themselves by his advice." This is doubtless true ; 
and they had no reason to regret, that they followed 
such advice, or were guided by such a counsellor. 

Another topic, nearly allied to this, occupied public 
attention at the same time. It became a question, 

Mt. 60.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 309 

whether all difficulties might not be adjusted, and 
a permanent union be established between the two 
countries, by admitting representatives in Parliament 
from the colonies. Politicians invented theories and sug- 
gested plans. Dr. Franklin thought that such a rep- 
resentation, on fair and equal terms, afforded the only 
basis of a union, which could be expected to endure. 
But the proposal must first come from England ; 
he was persuaded this would never be done, and he 
hoped little from the project. " The time has been," 
said he, in a letter to Lord Kames, "when the colo- 
nies might have been pleased with it ; they are now 
indifferent about it ; and, if it is much longer delayed, 
they too will refuse it. But the pride of this people 
cannot bear the thought of it, and therefore it will be 
delayed. Every man in England seems to consider 
himself as a piece of a sovereign over America ; seems 
to jostle himself into the throne with the King, and 
talks of our subjects in the colonies. The Parliament 
cannot well and wisely make laws suited to the col- 
onies, without being properly and truly informed of 
their circumstances, abilities, temper, &c. This it 
cannot be without representatives from thence ; and 
yet it is fond of this power, and averse to the only 
means of acquiring the necessary knowledge for exer- 
cising it ; which is desiring to be omnipotent, without 
being omniscient" 

The same letter, written only a year alter the re- 
peal of the Stamp Act, contains the following remark- 
able passage, which would seem almost to have been 
penned in the spirit of prophecy. "America, an im- 
mense territory, favored by nature with all advantages 
of climate, soils, great navigable rivers, and lakes, must 
become a great country, populous and mighty ; and 
will, in a less time than is generally conceived, be 

310 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [1767. 

able to shake off any shackles that may be imposed 
upon her, and perhaps place them on the imposers. 
In the mean time, every act of oppression will sour 
their tempers, lessen greatly, if not annihilate, the 
profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their 
final revolt ; for the seeds of liberty are universally 
found there, and nothing can eradicate them. And 
yet there remains among that people so much respect, 
veneration, and affection for Britain, that, if cultivated 
prudently, with a kind usage and tenderness for their 
privileges, they might be easily governed still for ages, 
without force or any considerable expense. But I do 
not see here a sufficient quantity of the wisdom, that 
is necessary to produce such a conduct, and I lament 
the want of it."* 

The temporary tranquillity in the colonies, which 
followed the repeal of the Stamp Act, afforded Dr. 
Franklin a respite from the public duties in which he 
was constantly engaged before that event, and again 
afterwards when the controversy was revived. A por- 
tion of this period he devoted to travelling. In Sep- 
tember, 1767, he visited Paris, accompanied, as he 
had been the year preceding in Germany, by his 
"steady, good friend, Sir John Pringle." The French 
ambassador in London, who had been particularly civil 
to him of late, gave him letters of introduction to sev- 
eral eminent persons. His papers on electricity had 
long before been translated and published in Paris, 
and his philosophical discoveries were probably better 
known and more highly estimated there, than in any 
other part of Europe. The reception he met with 
was in all respects gratifying to him. He was intro- 

* The letter, from which these extracts are taken, was not received 
by Lord Karnes. A copy of it was sent to him by Dr. Franklin two 

jEt.61.] life of franklin. 311 

duced to the King and royal family, and formed an 
acquaintance with the distinguished men in the scien- 
tific and political circles. These advantages, and the 
knowledge he gained by his observations and inqui- 
ries in France, were not only serviceable to him at 
the time, but they prepared the way for the success- 
ful execution of the important trust, which he was 
destined to hold in that country at a later period, as 
minister plenipotentiary from the American States. 

Scarcely had he returned to London, when the 
news arrived of commotions in Boston, occasioned 
by Mr. Townshend's revenue act, and by the laws 
for establishing commissioners of the customs in Amer- 
ica, and making the salaries of governors, judges, and 
other officers, dependent on the crown. These acts 
of Parliament the Bostonians regarded as a continu- 
ation of the same oppressive system, which had com- 
menced with the Stamp Act, and which it had been 
fondly hoped would cease with its repeal. Disap- 
pointed and indignant, they assembled in town meet- 
ing, and passed a series of spirited resolutions, recom- 
mending that all prudent and lawful measures should 
be taken for the encouragement of industry, economy, 
and domestic manufactures. A paper was drawn up, 
and circulated among the inhabitants for their signa- 
ture, by which they engaged to promote the use and 
consumption of American manufactures, and, after a 
stated time, not to purchase certain enumerated arti- 
cles, which had been imported from abroad. 

These proceedings gave great offence to the min- 
isterial party in England, and some uneasiness to the 
friends of the colonies. The former represented them 

years after its date. Mr. Tytler supposes the original was intercept- 
ed, and that it fell into the hands of the ministers. — Life of Lord 
Karnes, Vol. II. 2nd ed. 3 p. 112. 

312 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1768. 

as intentionally disrespectful to Parliament, and little 
short of rebellion ; and the latter thought them ill timed 
and injudicious. They were generally condemned by 
all parties. To calm the excitement, and to draw 
public attention to the true grounds of the controver- 
sy, Dr. Franklin wrote a paper, entitled Causes of the 
American Discontents before 1768. This was pub- 
lished in the London Chronicle. But the editor took 
great liberties with the manuscript, omitting and alter- 
ing to suit his humor. "He has drawn the teeth 
and pared the nails of my paper," said Franklin, "so 
that it can neither scratch nor bite; it seems only to 
paw and mumble." 

It was, nevertheless, extremely well adapted to the 
occasion, being written with the author's peculiar fe- 
licity of style, and in a tone of moderation and fair- 
ness, which could not fail to win the favorable opinion 
even of those, who were resolved not to be convinced. 
The causes of all the late troubles in the colonies are 
traced from their origin, and stated with so much clear- 
ness and method, as to place the subject in its full 
force before the reader's mind. The Boston resolu- 
tions are not directly brought into view ; yet the com- 
plaints of the colonists and the reasons for those com- 
plaints are so explained, as to make it evident, that 
the conduct of the Bostonians was a natural conse- 
quence of the aggressions of the British government, 
and such as ought to have been expected from a 
people jealous of their rights, and nurtured in the 
atmosphere of freedom. The example of Boston was 
speedily followed by the whole continent. 

About this time, also, Dr. Franklin published his 
excellent pieces against Smuggling, and on the Labor- 
ing Poor, designed to correct practical abuses and 
errors of opinion then prevalent in England. 

JEt.62.] life of franklin. 313 

At the beginning of the year 1768, there was a 
change in the ministry. The American business had 
been in the charge of Lord Shelburne, but it was now 
transferred to Lord Hillsborough, as secretary of State 
for America, this being made a distinct department. 
He was likewise placed at the head of the Board 
of Trade. In these stations he had so large a con- 
trol over the affairs of the colonies, that almost every 
thing depended on his dispositions towards them. He 
was accounted a man of integrity and honest pur- 
poses, but too fond of his own opinions, and obstinate 
in carrying out his schemes. It was not known that 
he had any special hostility to the colonies, yet. the 
American agents regarded his appointment as by no 
means auspicious to the interests of their countrymen. 
His general character gave a countenance to this ap- 
prehension, and his conduct in his office proved it not 
to be groundless. 

At first, however, he was courteous to the Ameri- 
can agents, and seemed to listen to their representa- 
tions with some degree of favor. To Dr. Franklin, 
in particular, he showed much civility, conversed with 
him often on American affairs, and professed to have 
great respect for his opinions. This circumstance, prob- 
ably, gave rise to the report, that some office was to 
be offered to him in his Lordship's department. Al- 
luding to this subject, Franklin writes; "I am told 
there has been a talk of getting me appointed under- 
secretary to Lord Hillsborough ; but with little like- 
lihood, as it is a settled point here,, that I am too much 
an American." An indirect overture was made to him, 
nevertheless, at the instance of the Duke of Grafton, 
by which it would appear, that there was a project 
for taking away from him the place of postmaster- 

vol. i. No 7. 40 A A 

314 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1768. 

general of the colonies, and appointing him to some 
office under the government. 

After speaking of this overture, in a letter to his 
Son, he adds ; " So great is my inclination to be at 
home and at rest, that I shall not be sorry, if this 
business falls through, and I am suffered to retire with 
my old post ; nor, indeed, very sorry, if they take that 
from me too, on account of my zeal for America, in 
which some of my friends have hinted to me, that I 
have been too open. If Mr. Grenville comes into 
power again, in any department respecting America, 
I must refuse to accept any thing that may seem to 
put me in his power, because I apprehend a breach 
between the two countries ; and that refusal might 
give offence." And he says further ; "I am grown so 
old, as to feel much less than formerly the spur of 
ambition ; and, if it were not for the flattering expec- 
tation, that, by being fixed here, I might more effec- 
tually serve my country, I should certainly determine 
for retirement, without a moment's hesitation." This 
is all that is known of the negotiation. There is no 
evidence that any office was directly proposed to him. 
The overture itself evinces a desire on the part of 
the government to profit by his talents, influence, and 
knowledge of American affairs. 

The scheme was probably laid aside for the reason 
he suggested. His well known sentiments in regard 
to the American controversy, and the boldness and 
constancy with which he had maintained them by his 
writings and otherwise, left no ground for hope, that 
he would either support or approve the measures, 
which it w T as resolved to pursue. For the same rea- 
son he could not accept an appointment, knowing as 
he did the designs of the ministers, and their deter- 
mination to carry them out at all hazards. 

Mt. 62.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 315 

The rumor, which could scarcely fail to arise from 
the above transactions, found its way to America, and 
was industriously circulated to his disadvantage by his 
political adversaries in Pennsylvania. He was accused 
of seeking office under the ministers, and of thus be- 
traying the confidence reposed in him by his country. 
Such a charge needs no refutation. His writings, and 
the whole tenor of his conduct during his residence 
in England, are proof alike of its falsehood and of the 
malicious intent with which it was propagated. 

The popular party in Pennsylvania, who sought a 
change of government, looked to him as the most 
suitable candidate for governor under the new system, 
if it should ever go into operation. When his sister 
hinted this to him in a letter, he replied; "There is 
no danger of such a thing being offered to me, and 
I am sure I shall never ask it. But, even if it were 
offered, I certainly could not accept it, to act under 
such instructions, as I know must be given with it. 
So you may be quite easy on that head." The ap- 
pointment would of course be made by the King, and 
the instructions must have been in conformity with the 
doctrines then in vogue respecting colonial subordi- 
nation, which Franklin had opposed from the time 
they were first promulgated. Some of the principal 
people in Massachusetts also wished him to become 
the successor of Sir Francis Bernard, as governor of 
that province, believing he would be acceptable to all 
parties, and be able to conciliate the unhappy differ- 
ences, which Bernard had contrived to stir up and 
foment. But, even if there had been any serious at- 
tempt to place him in this office, the same objections 
existed as in the former case. 

316 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1768. 


Dr. Franklin is appointed Agent for Georgia. — Causes the "Farmer's 
Letters " to be republished in London. — His Opinion of them. — Cho- 
sen President of the American Philosophical Society. — Promotes the 
Culture of Silk in Pennsylvania. — Encourages his Countrymen to ad- 
here to their Non-importation Agreements. — Journey to France. — Ap- 
pointed Agent for New Jersey. — His Answers to Mr. Strahan's Que- 
ries. — Repeal of some of the American Revenue Acts. — Intimations 
that he would be removed from Office. — His Remarks on that Subject 

— Chosen Agent for the Assembly of Massachusetts. ■ — Singular In- 
terview with Lord Hillsborough. — Objectionable Footing on which the 
Colonial Agents were placed by his Lordship. — Dr. Franklin makes 
a Tour through the North of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. 

— His Reception by Lord Hillsborough in Ireland. — Irish Parliament 

— Richard Bache. — Bishop of St Asaph. 

During the year 1768, Dr. Franklin was on the 
point of returning to America. In the present agitated 
condition of public affairs with respect to the colonies, 
he despaired of drawing the attention of the British 
rulers to the principal purpose of his mission, a change 
of government in Pennsylvania, although the Assembly 
had renewed their application every year with in- 
creased urgency, and the last time by a vote of ev- 
ery member except one. His private concerns, he said, 
required his presence at home, and the general busi- 
ness of the province could be transacted by his asso- 
ciate, Mr. Jackson, who resided in London. 

At this juncture he received intelligence, in a let- 
ter from Governor Wright, of his having been appoint- 
ed agent for Georgia. He then felt it his duty to 
wait for the papers and instructions of the Georgia 
Assembly, which would probably demand his special 
care. The appointment had been made without any 
previous intimation, and therefore he was under no 
obligation to accept it; yet he was unwilling to de- 

;Et. 62.] life of franklin. 317 

cline a trust, which had been spontaneously conferred 
upon him by so respectable a portion of his country- 
men, and which he might possibly execute for their 
benefit. This kept him till winter ; other business fol- 
lowed, and he found himself detained in England much 
longer than he had anticipated.* 

Having read, with approbation and pleasure, the cel- 
ebrated "Farmer's Letters," written by John Dickin- 
son, he caused them to be republished in London, with 
a commendatory Preface from his own pen. Besides 
the patriotic motive for this publication, it afforded him 
an opportunity of showing, that the extreme warmth, 
with which Mr. Dickinson had opposed his appoint- 
ment in the Pennsylvania Assembly, had not produced 
on his part any diminution of friendship or personal 
regard. This was still further manifested by their har- 
monious intercourse after he returned again to his own 

The Farmer's Letters were written against the late 
revenue acts. The depth of research, force of argu- 
ment, and perspicuity of style, which appeared in 
these letters, made them popular with all classes of 
readers in America. Franklin had a high opinion of 
their general merits, but he thought there was one im- 
portant point, which was not well established nor clear- 
ly explained. The Farmer acknowledged the power 
of Parliament to regulate the trade of the colonies, 
yet he denied the right of laying certain duties, which 

# 'Whilst the King of Denmark was on a visit to London, he sought 
the acquaintance of Dr. Franklin, who was one of the sixteen invited 
guests at a dinner, when the King dined in public, on the 1st of Oc- 
tober, 1768. The company consisted mostly of foreign ambassadors and 
officers of distinction. The other English gentlemen, who were present 
besides Dr. Franklin, were Lord Moreton, Admiral Rodney, General 
Hervey, Mr. Dunning, and Dr. Maty. 


318 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1768. 

would seem to be included in the power of regula- 
tion. If Parliament was to be the judge, this distinc- 
tion amounted to little. Every state in Europe claimed 
and exercised the right of laying duties on its exports. 
In Franklin's opinion the grievance was not, that Brit- 
ain imposed duties on exported commodities, but that 
she prohibited the colonists from purchasing the like 
commodities in the markets of other countries, thus 
forcing them to pay such prices as she pleased, and 
depriving them of the advantages of a competition in 
trade. It was true, that Parliament had exercised this 
power, and compelled obedience, under the vague pre- 
tence of regulating trade ; but it had been done in vio- 
lation of the principles upon which the relations be- 
tween Great Britain and the colonies had originally 
been established. 

As early as the year 1743, when Franklin was 
much engaged in philosophical studies, he projected a 
society, which was to include the principal men in 
America, who were fond of such pursuits, and who 
would thus be enabled to combine their efforts for 
the promotion of science. The plan met with favor, 
and an association was formed. The original mem- 
bers, besides Franklin, were Thomas Hopkinson, John 
Bartram the botanist, Thomas Godfrey the mathema- 
tician, Dr. Thomas Bond, Dr. Phineas Bond, William 
Parsons, Samuel Rhoads, and William Coleman, of 
Philadelphia; Chief Justice Morris, Mr. Home, John 
Coxe, and Mr. Martyn, of New Jersey; Cadwallader 
Colden and William Alexander, of New York. Oth- 
er members were soon added, whose names are not 
known. Hopkinson was president, and Franklin sec- 

This association proceeded with some degree of 
vigor at first, but it gradually declined. It was re- 

^t. 62.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 319 

vived at a later day, and, in January, 1769, it was 
united with another society, which had been formed in 
Philadelphia for similar objects. The institution, which 
grew out of this union, took the name of the American 
Philosophical Society. Franklin- was chosen president, 
and the same honor was annually conferred upon him 
to the end of his life, although he was much the 
larger part of the time absent from the country. He 
contributed several valuable papers to the second vol- 
ume of the Society's Transactions.* 

All his philosophical inquiries, and, indeed, all the 
studies to which he applied his mind, whether in sci- 
ence, politics, morals, or the economy of life, were 
directed to some useful end, either for the improve- 
ment of mankind, or the increase of human comfort. 
With this aim he endeavoured to promote the culture 
of silk in America, believing the soil and climate ex- 
tremely well adapted to it, and that it might be carried 
to a great extent without interfering with any other 
branch of industry. He spared no pains to collect in 
Europe such information, as would enable the culti- 
vators to prosecute the undertaking with success, as 

* See Appendix, No IV. 

Dr. Franklin was a member of nearly all the principal scientific and 
literary societies in America and Europe. By the diplomas and other 
evidences among his papers, it appears, that he was one of the earliest 
members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at Boston ; 
a member of the Royal Societies of London and Gottingen ; of the Roy- 
al Academy of Sciences in Paris, to which place he was nominated by 
the King. Eight foreign members only belonged to the Society at that 
time. He was chosen in 1772, and succeeded the celebrated Van Swie- 
ten of Vienna. He was likewise a member of the Philosophical So- 
cieties of Rotterdam, Edinburgh, and Manchester ; the Academy of 
Sciences, Belles Lettres, and Arts at Lyons ; the Academy of Sciences 
and Arts at Padua ; the Royal Academy of History in Madrid ; the Pat- 
riotic Society of Milan ; the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St Pe- 
tersburgh ; the Medical Society of London ; the Royal Medical Society 
of Paris ; and others, of which an exact list has not been obtained. 

320 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1769- 

well in regard to the planting of mulberry trees, as 
to the rearing of silkworms, and reeling the silk from 
the cocoons. The particulars were communicated, from 
time to time, to Dr. Cadwallader Evans, of Philadel- 
phia, who, with some other gentlemen, was zealously 
engaged in the enterprise. A company was formed for 
the cultivation of silk, and public-spirited individuals 
contributed money to aid in prosecuting the work. 

In one of his letters on this subject, Dr. Franklin 
says; "There is no doubt with me but that it might 
succeed in our country. It is the happiest of all in- 
ventions for clothing. Wool uses a good deal of land 
to produce it, which, if employed in raising corn, would 
afford much more subsistence for man, than the mut- 
ton amounts to. Flax and hemp require good land, 
impoverish it, and at the same time permit it to pro- 
duce no food at all. But mulberry trees may be plant- 
ed in hedgerows on walks or avenues, or for shade 
near a house, where nothing else is wanted to grow. 
The food for the worms, which produce the silk, is in 
the air, and the ground under the trees may still pro- 
duce grass, or some other vegetable good for man or 
beast. Then the wear of silken garments continues so 
much longer, from the strength of the materials, as to 
give it greatly the preference. Hence it is, that the 
most populous of all countries, China, clothes its inhab- 
itants with silk, while it feeds them plentifully, and has 
besides a vast quantity, both raw and manufactured, to 
spare for exportation." And again ; " I hope our peo- 
ple will not be disheartened by a few accidents, and 
such disappointments as are incident to all new un- 
dertakings, but persevere bravely in the silk business, 
till they have conquered all difficulties. By diligence 
and patience the mouse ate in twain the cable. It is 

jEt.63.] life of franklin. 321 

not two centuries since it was as much a novelty in 
France, as it is now with us in North America, and 
the people as much unacquainted with it." The dif- 
ficulties have not yet been conquered ; but so much 
progress has been made as to render it certain, that 
these anticipations will finally be realized. * 

The Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having re- 
quested the opinion of the Royal Society in regard to 
the best method of protecting the cathedral from light- 
ning, Dr. Franklin was one of the committee appoint- 
ed to investigate the subject. The other members 
were Mr. Canton, Dr. Watson, Mr. Delaval, and Mr. 
Wilson. On the 8th of June they made a report, 
which was approved by the Society, and the method 
recommended by them for putting up electrical con- 
ductors was accordingly followed. 

Dr. Franklin did not cease, in writing to his friends 
in America, to urge upon them a strict adherence to 
the resolutions, which had been universally adopted, 
not to import or use British goods. The more he 
reflected on what was passing before him, the more 
he was convinced, that the British government would 
not relax from the measures, so much and so justly 
complained of by the colonists, which, it was now 
said, even if they had originated in ignorance and a 
false policy, must be continued for the honor and 
dignity of Parliament. The supremacy of the national 

* The operations of Dr. Evans and his associates were continued, till 
the Revolution put a stop to all enterprises of this sort. A quantity of 
raw silk, produced by them, was sent over to England in 1772, which 
Dr. Franklin sold at a good price, and obtained a bounty on it from 
the British government. Some of the Company's silk was likewise man- 
ufactured in Pennsylvania. In his paper concerning a new settlement 
proposed to be made on the Ohio River, Dr. Franklin says; "Above 
ten thousand weight of cocoons was, in August, 1771, sold at the pub- 
lic filature in Philadelphia." 

VOL. I. 41 


legislature was not to be questioned by the King's 
subjects anywhere, and opposition was to be suppress- 
ed without reference to the cause or the consequences. 
Parliament might repeal its acts, when besought to 
do so . by humble petitions ; but it could never yield 
to a demand, or tolerate a refractory spirit. 

This was the doctrine of the ruling party in Great 
Britain, and perhaps not a very extravagant one when 
viewed in the abstract. But unfortunately it was at 
variance with practice. The colonists had petitioned, 
till their patience was exhausted, without obtaining re- 
lief or even a hearing. When thus neglected and 
trifled with, they thought it time to take care of them- 
selves, not by resisting the laws, but by rendering 
these laws ineffectual in their application. They re- 
solved to provide for their own wants by their indus- 
try and frugality, and such other means as Providence 
had blessed them with, and not to depend on a for- 
eign people for supplying them at exorbitant prices, 
loaded with such additional burdens of taxation, as, 
in the plenitude of their power, they might choose 
to impose. 

A committee of merchants in Philadelphia sent to 
Dr. Franklin a copy of their non-importation agree- 
ments, with a request that he would communicate 
them to the British merchants, who were concerned 
in the American trade. In his reply, dated July 9th, 
1 769, he commended their zeal, and remarked ; " By 
persisting steadily in the measures you have so lau- 
dably entered into, I hope you will, if backed by the 
general honest resolution of the people to buy Brit- 
ish goods of no others, but to manufacture for them- 
selves, or use colony manufactures only, be the means, 
under God, of recovering and establishing the free- 
dom of our country entire, and of handing it down 


y^z> ^ 


(^k^^S- *?$& 




( t7&^TnJc^ ^n^€^ 


^K^C^T- ty^7>~ d?-t^r~> 

tzy&^s t^/ 


VQl - 


JEt.63.] life of franklin. 323 

complete to posterity." This advice he often repeated ; 
and, although he was too far distant to partake of the 
feeling kindled by sympathy throughout the colonies, 
yet his sentiments accorded perfectly with those of 
his countrymen. 

A few days after writing the letter, quoted above, 
he went over to France, and passed several weeks 
at Paris. He has left no account of the journey, or 
of the business that called him abroad. 

His son being governor of New Jersey, an oppor- 
tunity had thus been afforded to Dr. Franklin for ren- 
dering occasional services to that colony; and, on the 
8th of December, 1769, he was chosen, by a unani- 
mous vote of the Assembly, to be the agent for trans- 
acting their affairs in England. A letter of instruc- 
tions accompanied the notice of his appointment.. He 
was requested to procure the royal signature to cer- 
tain laws, which had been passed by the Assembly, 
and, among others, an act for emitting one hundred 
thousand pounds in bills of credit, to be lent at five 
per cent, but not a legal tender. There had been 
a controversy long pending between East and West 
Jersey respecting a boundary line, which it had now 
become more necessary than ever to have settled, and 
which was intrusted to his management. 

Just before the meeting of Parliament, Mr. Strahan 
addressed to Dr. Franklin certain Queries, designed 
to draw out from him an opinion as to the effect, which 
a partial repeal of the revenue acts would have on 
the minds of the Americans; the repealing act being 
so framed as to preserve the dignity and supremacy 
of the British legislature. The queries were prompt- 
ly and explicitly answered. 

In regard to the supremacy of Parliament, so much 
talked of, Dr. Franklin said the best way of preserv- 

324 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1769. 

ing it was, to make a very sparing use of it, and nev- 
er to use it at all to the prejudice of one part of the 
empire for the advantage of another part. By such 
a prudent course he imagined the supremacy might 
be established, but otherwise it would be disputed and 
lost. The colonies had submitted to it in regulations 
of commerce ; but this was voluntary, as they were 
not bound to yield obedience to acts of Parliament 
by their original constitution. An assumed authority 
might safely be exercised. when it aimed only to do 
good and* render equal justice to all; but, if it erred 
in this respect, its dignity might be impaired, and the 
most likely method of restoring it would be to cor- 
rect the error as soon as an opportunity offered. And 
thus the British legislature might easily keep its dig- 
nity from harm, in relation to the colonies, by repeal- 
ing the revenue acts intended to operate against them. 

To Mr. Strahan's inquiry, w T hether the Americans 
would be satisfied with a partial repeal, he replied 
in the negative. He said it was not the amount to 
be paid in duties that they complained of, but the 
duties themselves and the reasons assigned for laying 
them, namely, that the revenue might be appropriated 
for the support of government and the administration 
of justice in the colonies. This was encroaching up- 
on their rights, and interfering with the power of their 
Assemblies. In fact, if this principle were allowed, it 
might be so extended as to reduce the Assemblies to 
a nullity, and thus subject the people to a. servile de- 
pendence on the will and pleasure of Parliament, with- 
out having any voice in making the laws they were 
to obey. Till the principle itself should be abandon- 
ed, therefore, he was persuaded there would be no 
chance of a reconciliation. 

Other questions were asked, which he answered in 

Mt. 64.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 325 

the same spirit, giving it as his unqualified opinion, 
that the people would not be quieted by any thing 
short of a total repeal of all the acts for collecting a 
revenue from them without their consent. If this were 
done, and they were restored to the situation they 
were in before the Stamp Act, he believed their dis- 
contents would subside, that they would dissolve their 
agreements not to import goods, and that commerce, 
returning again into its old channels, would revive and 
flourish. He added, however, that he saw no pros- 
pect of any such salutary measures, either in the 
wisdom of ministers, or in the temper of the British 

When Parliament assembled, the subject was brought 
forward ; and in April, 1 770, after an experiment of 
three years, the British ministry finding the Ameri- 
cans still obstinate in refusing to import goods, and 
trade declining, procured a repeal of the duties on all 
the commodities enumerated in the revenue act, ex- 
cept tea. This was done with a view to commercial 
policy, and not with any regard to the rights of the 
colonists, or the least pretence that it was meant to 
remove the cause of their complaints. On the con- 
trary, the insignificant tea duty was retained for the 
express purpose of upholding the sovereignity of Par- 
liament. The consequence was, that it rather increased 
than allayed the popular ferment in America; for it 
implied, that they estimated their grievances by the 
amount of money demanded of them, and not by the 
principle upon which this demand was made. They 
renewed their non-importation agreements with more 
zeal than ever. 

The freedom with which Dr. Franklin wrote to his 
correspondents in America, and the sentiments he re- 
peatedly uttered respecting the disputes between the 


326 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1770. 

two countries, gave offence to the British government. 
Copies of some of his letters were clandestinely ob- 
tained and forwarded to the ministers. Intimations 
were thrown out, that he would be made to feel their 
resentment, by being removed from his place in the 
American postoffice. As he had never been charged 
with neglect in this station, but, on the contrary, by 
long and unwearied exertions, had raised the post- 
office from a low condition to a state of prosperity 
and productiveness, a removal could only be intend- 
ed as a punishment for his political conduct and opin- 
ions, or rather for his perseverance in defending what 
he believed to be the true interests and just claims 
of his country. He was determined, therefore, not to 
give up the office, till it should be taken from him, 
although he was plentifully abused in the newspapers 
to provoke him to a resignation. A retreat, under 
such circumstances, did not comport with his ideas 
either of self-respect or of consistency. Abuse from 
adversaries, the displeasure of ministers, and the loss 
of his office, were not to be coveted ; but they could 
be borne, and they would never drive him to sacri- 
fice his principles, or to desert a cause, which he had 
embraced from a conviction of its justice and a sense 
of duty. 

" As to the letters complained of," said he, " it was 
true I did write them, and they were written in com- 
pliance with another duty, that to my country ; a duty 
quite distinct from that of postmaster. My conduct 
in this respect was exactly similar to that I held on 
a similar occasion but a few years ago, when the then 
ministry were ready to hug me for the assistance I 
afforded them in repealing a former revenue act. My 
sentiments were still the same, that no such acts should 
be made here for America ; or, if made, should as soon 

Mt. 64.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 327 

as possible be repealed; and I thought it should not 
be expected of me to change my political opinions 
every time his Majesty thought fit to change his min- 
isters. This was my language on the occasion; and 
I have lately heard, that, though I was thought much 
to blame, it being understood, that every man who 
holds an office should act with the ministry, whether 
agreeable or not to his own judgment, yet, in con- 
sideration of the goodness of my private character (as 
they were pleased to compliment me), the office was 
not to be taken from me. Possibly they may still 
change their minds, and remove me; but no appre- 
hension of that sort will, I trust, make the least al- 
teration in my political conduct. My rule, in which 
I have always found satisfaction, is, never to turn aside 
in public affairs through views of private interest; but 
to go straight forward in doing what appears to me 
right at the time, leaving the consequences with Prov- 

The person most active on this occasion was Lord 
Hillsborough, who had taken umbrage at Dr. Frank- 
lin's conduct of late, finding him in the way of all 
his schemes for humbling the Americans and forcing 
upon them his official mandates. How far the other 
ministers participated in his feelings of hostility is un- 
certain, but Franklin was permitted for some time long- 
er to retain his office. 

For many years he had corresponded on political 
affairs with gentlemen in Massachusetts, who had been 
much influenced by his opinions and advice. Some 
of his best letters were written to the Reverend Dr. 
Samuel Cooper, a man of strong abilities, skilful with 
his pen, extremely well informed on all the public 
transactions of the time, and a zealous defender of the 
rights and privileges of the colonists. Dr. Franklin 

328 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1771. 

confided in his discretion and good sense, and opened 
his mind to him freely, receiving in return accurate 
intelligence of what was doing in America, with sound 
and judicious observations on the state of the country, 
and the impressions produced on the minds of the 
people by the policy and acts of the British govern- 
ment. The correspondence was shown, from time to 
time, to the prominent men in Massachusetts, who 
thus became acquainted with Dr. Franklin's private 
sentiments, as well as with his labors in promoting the 
cause of his country, both of which met with their 
entire approbation. It was natural, therefore, that they 
should wish to secure his services for the province, 
and more especially as he was a native of Boston, 
and had always manifested a warm attachment to the 
place of his birth. He was accordingly chosen by the 
Assembly to be their agent, as expressed in the re- 
solve, " to appear for the House at the court of Great 
Britain," and to sustain their interests, "before his 
Majesty in Council, or in either House of Parliament, 
or before any public board." The appointment was 
made on the 24th of October, 1770, and was to con- 
tinue for one year; but it was annually renewed whilst 
he remained abroad. 

Mr. Cushing, the Speaker of the Assembly, trans- 
mitted to him a certificate of his election, and other 
papers, setting forth in detail the grievances of which 
the people complained, and instructing the agent to 
use his best efforts to have them redressed. 

The first step he took, after receiving these papers, 
was to wait on Lord Hillsborough, the American Sec- 
retary, both to announce his appointment officially, and 
to explain the purport of his instructions. The inter- 
view was a very singular one. Franklin had but just 
time to mention Massachusetts, and to add, that the 

Mt. 65.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 329 

Assembly had chosen him to be their agent, when his 
Lordship hastily interrupted him by saying, "I must 
set you right there, Mr. Franklin ; you are not agent." 
To which the latter replied, "I do not understand 
your Lordship. I have the appointment in my pock- 
et." The minister still insisted, that it was a mistake; 
he had later advices, and Governor Hutchinson would 
not give his assent to the bill. "There was no bill, 
my Lord," said Franklin, " it was by a vote of the 
House." Whereupon his Lordship called his secreta- 
ry, and asked for Governor Hutchinson's letter ; but it 
turned out that the letter related wholly to another 
matter, and there was not a word in it about the 
agent. " I thought it could not well be," said Frank- 
lin, " as my letters are by the last ships, and they 
mention no such thing. Here is the authentic copy 
of the vote of the House appointing me, in which there 
is no mention of any act intended. Will your Lord- 
ship please to look at it?" But this his Lordship was 
not pleased to do. He took the paper with apparent 
unwillingness, and, without opening or paying the least 
regard to it, he declaimed in an angry tone against 
the practice of appointing agents by a vote of the As- 
semblies, and declared, that no agent should for the 
future be attended to, except such as had been ap- 
pointed by a regular act of the Assembly, approved by 
the Governor. 

Franklin expostulated with his Lordship on this 
head ; he could not conceive that the consent of the 
Governor was necessary; the agent was to transact 
the business of the people, and not that of the Gov- 
ernor ; the people had a right, by their representatives, 
to appoint and instruct such agents as they thought 
proper to manage their own affairs ; they had always 

vol. i. 42 bb* 

330 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1771. 

done so, and the thing was as reasonable in itself as 
it had been common in practice. 

The minister was not in a humor to be reasoned 
with. He would not even read the certificate of Dr. 
Franklin's appointment, nor any of the papers, but 
handed them back unopened. Franklin had kept him- 
self cool during the altercation, yet he could not brook 
this effrontery, especially as it was not more a breach 
of good manners, than an insult to the Assembly of 
Massachusetts; and he bluntly told his Lordship, that 
he believed it was of little consequence whether the 
appointment was acknowledged or not, for it was clear 
to his mind, that, as affairs were now administered, 
an agent could be of no use to any of the colonies. 

The doctrine, here broached by Lord Hillsborough, 
was both novel and dangerous. If carried out, it 
would deprive the people of the only method, by 
which they could hold communication with the King, 
or any other branch of the government, except through 
the intervention of governors, who were often unfriend- 
ly to their interests, indeed, generally opposed to them, 
and might, by their negative, defeat any choice the 
Assemblies should make. It would, moreover, place 
them, in this respect, at the mercy of a minister, since 
he might easily instruct the governors not to approve 
the appointment of particular men, or men whose opin- 
ions were suspected of being too much tinctured with 
ideas favorable to the popular claims. And thus, in 
reality, the minister would nominate the agents, and 
such of them as were not subservient to his wishes 
would be sure to lose their places at the next elec- 
tion. Dr. Franklin declared, that he would not accept 
an agency under such an appointment, nor counte- 
nance in any way so arbitrary and mischievous a doc- 
trine. Lord Hillsborough succeeded in procuring a 

Mt.65.] life of franklin. 331 

resolution of the Board of Trade not to allow an agent 
to appear before them, who had not been appointed 
according to his plan. It was never followed, how- 
ever, by the Assemblies, and never could have been, 
without sacrificing one of their most valuable privileges. 
In the mean time, the business was prosecuted before 
the Board, whilst Lord Hillsborough continued at the 
head of it, though to a great disadvantage, by written 
applications and indirect influence with the members. 

Having now in his charge the concerns of four col- 
onies, Dr. Franklin's time was necessarily much occu- 
pied with them. Little being done by Parliament, 
however, relating to American affairs, in the year -1771, 
he had leisure for his annual excursions, which, from 
his confinement and close attention to business while 
in London, he found essential to his health. He made 
short journeys through different parts of England, stop- 
ping and passing some time at gentlemen's country- 
seats, to which he had been invited. He visited Dr. 
Priestley at Leeds, Dr. Percival at Manchester, and Dr. 
Darwin at Litchfield, and assisted them in performing 
some new philosophical experiments. With each of 
these gentlemen he corresponded for many years, chief- 
ly on scientific subjects. Priestley's celebrated experi- 
ments on air, and discoveries in the economy of vege- 
tation, were regularly communicated to him during 
their progress. When Dr. Priestley was in London, 
their intercourse was constant and intimate. They 
belonged to a club of "honest Whigs," as it was des- 
ignated by Dr. Franklin, which held stated meetings, 
and of which Dr. Price and Dr. Kippis were also 

After these little excursions, he made a tour through 
Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. He had never been 
in Ireland before. He was entertained, as he says, 

332 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1771. 

"by both parties, the courtiers and the patriots; the 
latter treating him with particular respect." But the 
most remarkable occurrence, that happened to him 
there, was his meeting with Lord Hillsborough, who 
had retreated from the fatigues of public business for 
a few weeks to seek relaxation on his estates. The 
story is best told in his own words, as contained in 
a letter to Mr. Cushing. 

"Being in Dublin at the same time with his Lord- 
ship, I met with him accidentally at the Lord Lieu- 
tenant's, who had happened to invite us to dine with 
a large company on the same day. As there was 
something curious in our interview, I must give you 
an account of it. He was surprisingly civil, and urged 
my fellow travellers and me to call at his house in our 
intended journey northward, where we might be sure 
of better accommodations than the inns would afford 
us. He pressed us so politely, that it was not easy 
to refuse without apparent rudeness, as we must pass 
through his town, Hillsborough, and by his door ; and 
therefore, as it might afford an opportunity of saying 
something on American affairs, I concluded to comply 
with his invitation. 

"His Lordship went home some time before we left 
Dublin. We called upon him, and were detained at 
his house four days, during which time he entertained 
us with great civility, and a particular attention to me, 
that appeared the more extraordinary, as I knew that 
just before we left London he had expressed himself 
concerning me in very angry terms, calling me a re- 
publican, a factious, mischievous fellow, and the like." 

" He seemed attentive to every thing, that might make 
my stay in his house agreeable to me, and put his 
eldest son, Lord Killwarling, into his phaeton with me, 
to drive me a round of forty miles, that I might see 


the country, the seats, and manufactures, covering me 
with his own greatcoat, lest I should take cold. In 
short, he seemed extremely solicitous to impress me, 
and the colonies through me, with a good opinion of 
him. All which I could not but wonder at, knowing 
that he likes neither them nor me; and I thought it 
inexplicable but on the supposition, that he appre- 
hended an approaching storm, and was desirous of 
lessening beforehand the number of enemies he had 
so imprudently created. But, if he takes no steps to- 
wards withdrawing the troops, repealing the duties, 
restoring the Castle, * or recalling the offensive instruc- 
tions, I shall think all the plausible behaviour I . have 
described is meant only, by patting and stroking the 
horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are 
drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides." 
He stayed in Dublin till the opening of the Irish 
Parliament, for the purpose of seeing the principal 
patriots in that Assembly. "I found them," he says, 
"disposed to be friends of America, in which I en- 
deavoured to confirm them, with the expectation that 
our growing weight might in time be thrown into their 
scale, and, by joining our interests with theirs, a more 
equitable treatment from this nation might be obtained 
for them as well as for us. There are many brave 
spirits among them. The gentry are a very sensible, 
polite, and friendly people. Their Parliament makes 
a most respectable figure, with a number of very good 
speakers in both parties, and able men of business. 
And I must not omit acquainting you, that, it being 
a standing rule to admit members of the English Par- 
liament to sit (though they do not vote) in the House 

* Castle William, a fortification in Boston Harbour, which belonged 
to Massachusetts, but which was at this time occupied by British troops. 

334 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1771. 

among the members, while others are only admitted 
into the gallery, my fellow traveller, being an English 
member, * was accordingly admitted as such. But I 
supposed I must go to the gallery, when the Speaker 
stood up, and acquainted the House, that he under- 
stood there was in town an American gentleman of 
(as he was pleased to say) distinguished character and 
merit, a member or delegate of some of the Parlia- 
ments of that country, who was desirous of being 
present at the debates of- the House ; that there was 
a rule of the House for admitting members of Eng- 
lish Parliaments, and that he supposed the House 
would consider the American Assemblies as English 
Parliaments ; but, as this was the first instance, he had 
chosen not to give any order in it without receiving 
their directions. On the question, the House gave a 
loud, unanimous Jh) ; when two members came to me 
without the bar, led me in between them, and placed 
me honorably and commodiously." 

In Scotland he had many friends, who received him 
with a cordial welcome and an open-handed hospitality. 
He spent five days with Lord Karnes at Blair Drum- 
mond, near Stirling, two or three days at Glasgow, 
and about three weeks at Edinburgh, where he lodged 
with David Hume. His old acquaintances, Sir Alex- 
ander Dick, Drs. Robertson, Cullen, Black, Ferguson, 
Russel, and others, renewed the civilities, which they 
had formerly shown to him, and which attached him 
so strongly to Scottish manners and society. His in- 
timacy with Dr. Robertson had before enabled him to 
be the means of rendering a just tribute to the merit 
of some of his countrymen, by obtaining for them 

# His friend, Mr. Jackson, who was a member of the British Par- 

Mt.65.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 335 

honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, 
over which that distinguished historian presided. Dr. 
Cooper, President Stiles, and Professor Winthrop of 
Harvard College, were among those upon whom this 
honor was conferred in consequence of his recommen- 

On his way back from Scotland, at Preston in Lan- 
cashire, he met his son-in-law, Mr. Richard Bache, 
who, with his consent, had married his only daughter 
four years before in Philadelphia. Mr. Bache had just 
come over from America, and was on a visit to his 
mother and sisters, who resided at Preston. He ac- 
companied his father-in-law to London, and sailed 
thence for Philadelphia a few weeks afterwards." Dr. 
Franklin had never seen him before, but this short 
acquaintance seems to have made a favorable impres- 
sion. In writing to his wife, he said he had been 
much pleased with what he had observed of his char- 
acter and deportment, as also with the condition and 
good repute of his relations in England. 

Some of Dr. Franklin's happiest days were passed 
in the family of Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, 
a man renowned for his virtues, his abilities, attain- 
ments, and steady adherence .to the principles of po- 
litical and civil liberty. He was one of the very small 
number on the bench of Bishops in the House of 
Lords, who opposed, from the beginning, the course 
pursued by the ministry in the American controversy. 
His writings on this subject were applauded by all 
parties as models of style and argument, and by the 
friends of liberty for their candor and independent 
spirit. In the course of this year, Franklin paid two 
visits to the "good Bishop," as he was accustomed 
to call him, at Twyford in Hampshire, the place of 

336 LiFE OF FRANKLIN. [1771. 

the Bishop's summer residence ; and, while there, he 
employed his leisure hours in writing the first part of 
his autobiography. His friendship for this amiable fam- 
ily continued without diminution through life, and was 
kept bright by an uninterrupted correspondence with 
the Bishop and his daughters, particularly Miss Geor- 
giana Shipley, a young lady of distinguished accom- 

Mt.W.} life of franklin. 337 


Dr. Franklin meditates a Return to America. — Singular Conduct 
of Lord Hillsborough. — Walpole's Grant. — Hillsborough's Report 
against it. — Franklin's Answer. — Reasons for settling a New Colony 
west of the Alleganies. — Interview with Lord Hillsborough at Ox- 
ford. — Franklin draws up the Report of a Committee appointed to ex- 
amine the Powder Magazines at Purfleet. — Performs new Electrical 
Experiments. — Controversy about Pointed and Blunt Conductors. — 
Lord Dartmouth succeeds Lord Hillsborough. — His Character. — 
Franklin's Interview with him. — Petitions from the Assembly of Mas- 
sachusetts. — Franklin writes a Preface to the London Edition of the 
Boston Resolutions ; also " Rules for reducing a Great Empire to a 
Small One," and " An Edict of the King of Prussia." — Abridges the 
Book of Common Prayer. — Experiments to show the Effect ef Oil 
in smoothing Waves. — Dubourg's Translation of his Writings. 

At this time he again meditated a return to Penn- 
sylvania. Impatient of the delays attending all kinds of 
American business, disgusted at the manner in which 
the American department was administered, and weary 
of fruitless solicitations, he was inclined to retire from 
a service, which seemed to promise as little benefit to 
his country as satisfaction to himself. Writing to his 
son in January, 1772, he said; "I have of late great 
debates with myself whether or not I shall continue 
here any longer. I grow homesick, and, being now 
in my sixty-seventh year, I begin to apprehend some 
infirmity of age may attack me, and make my return 
impracticable. I have, also, some important affairs to 
settle before my death, a period I ought now to think 
cannot be far distant. I see here no disposition in 
Parliament to meddle further in colony affairs for the 
present, either to lay more duties or to repeal any ; 
and I think, though I were to return again, I may be 
absent from here a year without any prejudice to the 
business I am engaged in, though it is not probable, 

vol. i. 43 cc 

338 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

that, being once at home, I should ever again see 
England. I have, indeed, so many good, kind friends 
here, that I could spend the remainder of my life 
among them with great pleasure, if it were not for 
my American connexions, and the indelible affection 
I retain for that dear country, from which I have so 
long been in a state of exile." Circumstances induced 
him, as on a former occasion, to suspend the execu- 
tion of this design. His friends urged him to wait 
the result of the session of Parliament, letters and 
papers came from the American Assemblies requiring 
his attention, and at length, by the resignation of Lord 
Hillsborough, the agents were restored to the footing 
on which they had formerly stood. 

The conduct of this minister was as inexplicable in 
some things, as it was arrogant and absurd in others. 
" When I had been a little while returned to Lon- 
don," says Dr. Franklin, "I waited on him to thank 
him for his civilities in Ireland, and to discourse with 
him on a Georgia affair. The porter told me he was 
not at home. I left my card, went another time, and 
received the same answer, though I knew he was at 
home, a friend of mine being with him. After inter- 
missions of a week each, I made two more visits, and 
received the same answer. The last time was on a 
levee day, when a number of carriages were at his 
door. My coachman driving up, alighted, and was 
opening the coach door, when the porter, seeing me, 
came out, and surlily chid the coachman for opening 
the door before he had inquired whether my Lord 
was at home ; and then, turning to me, said, * My Lord 
is not at home.' I have never since been nigh him, 
and we have only abused one another at a distance." 
This caprice was the more extraordinary, as they had 
not met, nor had any kind of intercourse passed be- 
tween them, since his Lordship's caresses in Ireland. 

Mt.66.] life of franklin. 339 

There was an incident, however, connected with a 
public transaction, which may perhaps afford some ex- 
planation of the minister's conduct in this instance. 
Several years before, Sir William Johnson, and oth- 
ers in America, had projected a plan for settling a 
new colony west of the Allegany Mountains. A com- 
pany was formed, consisting of individuals, some of 
whom resided in America and others in England, and 
an application was made to the crown for a grant of 
land. Gentlemen of rank and distinction were among 
the associates. Mr. Thomas Walpole, a wealthy bank- 
er of London, was at the head of the Company, and 
from this circumstance the territory in question was 
usually called Walpole 9 s Grant. The Company's agents 
for obtaining the grant, and making the requisite ar- 
rangements with the government, were Thomas Wal- 
pole, Dr. Franklin, John Sargent, and Samuel Whar- 
ton. They presented a petition, which lay for a long 
time before the Board of Trade, without attracting 
much favor. It was said to interfere with the Ohio 
Company's lands, and with other grants made by the 
Governor of Virginia. Lord Hillsborough presided at 
the Board of Trade, and was secretly opposed to it, 
although he contrived to lead Mr. Walpole and his as- 
sociates into the belief, that he was not unfriendly to 
their objects. At last it was necessary for the Board 
to give an opinion, and he then wrote an elaborate 
Report against the petition, which Report was approved 
by the Board and sent up to the King's Council. 

In the mean time Dr. Franklin answered this Re- 
port in a very able paper, taking up and confuting 
each of his Lordship's objections, and advancing many 
arguments to prove the great advantages that would 
flow, both to the colonies and to the British nation, 
by extending the settlements westward. This answer 

340 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

was likewise presented to the Council. It produced 
the desired effect. Notwithstanding the opposition of 
the Board of Trade, the petition was approved. 

Lord Hillsborough had set his heart upon defeating 
the measure ; for he had a scheme of his own in re- 
gard to the western boundary of the colonies, by which 
emigrations were not to extend beyond the head wa- 
ters of the streams running eastward into the Atlantic. 
He thought it necessary thus to restrict the limits of 
the colonies, that they might be within reach of the 
trade and commerce of Great Britain, and be kept 
under a due subjection to the mother country. He 
was, therefore, disappointed and offended at the course 
taken by the Council; and the more so, as it was a 
proof that his influence was on the wane. He thought 
his opinions and judgment were treated with less re- 
spect than he was entitled to, as a member of the 
cabinet and the head of the Board of Trade. The 
issue of this affair, chiefly brought about by Dr. Frank- 
lin's answer to his Report, was the immediate cause 
of his resignation. 

The answer was drawn up with great skill, con- 
taining a clear and methodical statement of historical 
facts, and weighty reasons for extending the western 
settlements. It was impossible to prevent the popu- 
lation, tempted by new and fertile lands, from spread- 
ing in that direction. Already many thousands had 
crossed the mountains and seated themselves on these 
lands, and others were daily following them. Was it 
good policy, or fair treatment to this portion of his 
Majesty's subjects, to leave them without a regular 
government, under which they might have the bene- 
fit of laws and a proper administration of justice? 
A colony, thus established, would, moreover, be a bar- 
rier against the incursions of the Indians into the popu- 

Mr. 66.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 341 

lous districts along the Atlantic, which had hitherto 
been a constant source of bloody wars and vast ex- 
pense to the inhabitants. It would afford additional 
facilities for promoting the Indian trade. So far from 
being out of the reach of British commerce, as Lord 
Hillsborough imagined, it would, in fact, enlarge that 
commerce by increasing the consumption of British 
manufactures, and filling the markets with new prod- 
ucts of industry, derived from a soil now lying waste, 
but which, from its variety and richness, with an un- 
common benignity of climate, would yield ample re- 
turns to the labor of the cultivator, and in such com- 
modities as would meet a ready demand in all the 
principal marts with which the trade of Great Britain 
was connected. There w r ould also be an easy com- 
munication with the seacoast by the navigable rivers, 
and by roads, which the settlers would soon find the 
means of constructing. 

Dr. Franklin's exact knowledge of the internal state 
of America enabled him to amplify these topics, and 
illustrate them with statistical and geographical details, 
in such a manner as to overthrow all his opponent's 
objections, and the arguments upon which they were 
founded. The Revolution came on before the plan 
was executed, and, by depriving the King of his au- 
thority over the lands, defeated the completion of the 
grant. The experience of a few years, however, proved 
the accuracy and wisdom of Dr. Franklin's views on 
the subject, by the unparalleled rapidity with which 
the western territory was settled.* 

* Lord Hillsborough seemed resolved to let it be known, that his tem- 
per was not implacable, if it was capricious. More than a year after 
his resignation, he met Dr. Franklin at Oxford. Calling at his room, 
his first salutation was, " Dr. Franklin, I did not know till this minute 
that you were here, and I am come to make you my bow. I am glad 


342 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

In August, 1772, a committee of the Royal Society, 
under the direction of the government, examined the 
powder magazines at Purfleet, for the purpose of sug- 
gesting some method of protecting them from light- 
ning. Dr. Franklin had already visited Purfleet, at the 
request of the Board of Ordnance, and recommended 
the use of pointed iron rods, according to the method 
originally proposed by him, which had been practised 
with success in America for more than twenty years. 
The committee consisted of Messrs. Cavendish, Wat- 
son, Franklin, Wilson, and Robertson, all of whom 
were distinguished for their acquaintance with electri- 
city. A Report was drawn up by Dr. Franklin, and 
signed by the committee, in which they advised the 
erecting of pointed rods, with a minute description of 
the manner of constructing them. 

Mr. Wilson w T as the only dissenting member, who 
gave it as his opinion, that pointed conductors were 
dangerous, inasmuch as they attracted the lightning, 
and might thus overcharge the rod and promote the 
mischief they were intended to prevent. According 
to his theory, the conductors ought to be blunt at the 
top. To satisfy himself more fully in this particular, 
as w r ell as to remove all doubts from the minds of 
others, Dr. Franklin performed a series of new elec- 
trical experiments, by which he demonstrated, that 
pointed rods are preferable to blunt ones. It is true, 
they invite the lightning, yet this is the very thing 
desired, for the charge is thereby silently and gradu- 
ally drawn from the clouds, and conveyed without 

to see you at Oxford, and that you look so well." The conversation 
continued for a short time. Alluding to this incident, Dr. Franklin said, 
" Of all the men I ever met with, he is surely the most unequal in his 
treatment of people, the most insincere, and the most wrongheaded." 
It is believed, that there was no intercourse afterwards between them. 


danger to the earth ; whereas a conductor, blunt at the 
top, may receive a larger quantity of the fluid at 
once, than can be carried away, which will thus cause 
an explosion. This w T as the principle, upon which his 
theory of lightning-rods was originally formed, and it 
was established more firmly than ever by these new 
experiments. They were satisfactory to nearly all the 
men of science, and the conductors at Purfleet were 
erected in the manner recommended by the com- 
mittee. * 

* The controversy about pointed and blunt conductors continued for 
some time. Mr. Wilson grew warm in it, and gained adherents to his 
cause. A stroke of lightning fell upon the buildings at Purfleet in May, 
1777, without doing any damage, but this accident brought the subject 
again into agitation. It was referred to another committee of the Roy- 
al Society, who reported as before in favor of pointed rods. Mr. Wil- 
son seized this occasion to propagate his theory with renewed vigor, 
repeating his experiments in public, and in presence of the King and 
royal family, by whom they were countenanced. At one of these ex- 
hibitions Lord Mahon was present, and showed by experiments of his 
own, that Mr. Wilson misunderstood the theory of Dr. Franklin, or 
represented it unfairly. Mr. Henly and Mr. Nairne also demonstrated 
the fallacy of his principles. In the midst of the dispute, however, the 
pointed conductors were taken down from the Queen's palace, and 
blunt ones were substituted in their place. Dr. Ingenhousz, a member 
of the Royal Society, wrote an account of the affair, inveighing against 
Mr. Wilson's conduct, which was transmitted to a gentleman in Paris, 
with a request that he would show it to Dr. Franklin and have it pub- 
lished in France. Dr. Franklin replied as follows to this gentleman, in 
a letter dated at Passy, October 14th, 1777. 

" I am much obliged by your communication of the letter from Eng- 
land. I am of your opinion, that it is not proper for publication here. 
Our friend's expressions concerning Mr. Wilson will be thought too 
angry to be made use of by one philosopher when speaking of another, 
and on a philosophical question. He seems as much heated about this 
one point, as the Jansenists and Molinists were about the Jive. As to 
my writing any thing on the subject, which you seem to desir^ I think 
it not necessary, especially as I have nothing to add to what I have 
already said upon it in a paper read to the committee, who ordered the 
conductors at Purfleet ; which paper is printed in the last French edi- 
tion of my writings. 

" I have never entered into any controversy in defence of my philo- 

344 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

The successor of Lord Hillsborough in the Ameri- 
can department was Lord Dartmouth. This appoint- 
ment gave satisfaction to the colonial agents, and it 
has even been supposed, that Dr. Franklin was instru- 
mental in effecting it. Some time before Lord Hills- 
borough's resignation, it was rumored, that he would 
probably be removed, as he was known not to be 
on cordial terms with the ministry; and, when Dr. 
Franklin was asked by a friend at court, if he could 
name another person for the place, who would be 
more acceptable to the Americans, he answered, " Yes, 
there is Lord Dartmouth; we liked him very well 
when he was at the head of the Board formerly, and 
probably should like him again." The colonists gen- 
erally were pleased with the change. Lord Dartmouth 
had been on their side in opposing the Stamp Act, 

sophical opinions; I leave them to take their chance in the world. If 
they are right, truth and experience will support them ; if wrong, they 
ought to be refuted and rejected. Disputes are apt to sour one's tem- 
per, and disturb one's quiet. I have no private interest in the recep- 
tion of my inventions by the world, having never made, nor proposed 
to make, the least profit by any of them. The King's changing his 
pointed conductors for blunt ones is, therefore, a matter of small impor- 
tance to me. If I had a wish about it, it would be, that he had rejected 
them altogether as ineffectual. For it is only since he thought himself 
and family safe from the thunder of Heaven, that he dared to use his 
own thunder in destroying his innocent subjects." 

The wits entered the lists and amused the public and themselves at 
the expense of the philosophers. In allusion to this dispute, and to the 
political state of the times, the following epigram was written. 

" While you, great George, for safety hunt, 
And sharp conductors change for blunt, 
The empire 's out of joint. 
A Franklin a wiser course pursues, 

And all your thunder fearless views, 
By keeping to the point." 

The controversy died away, and was not revived so as to diminish 
the confidence in Franklin's theory of pointed conductors, which has 
been universally followed in practice. 

^Et. 66.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 345 

and they hoped much from his character, and the dis- 
positions he had shown towards them. 

If they were disappointed in this hope, it was per- 
haps less owing to the fault of this minister, than to 
the policy which had been adopted in regard to Amer- 
ica, and which he was obliged to support while he 
retained his office. In ' the administration of his own 
department, he at first assumed some degree of inde- 
pendence, and his conduct was more mild and con- 
siderate, than that of his predecessor; but he soon 
betrayed a want of consistency and firmness, which, 
although he was inclined to good measures, led him 
to join in sustaining the worst. He abolished the rule 
of not admitting agents to appear before the Board of 
Trade, whose election had not been approved by the 
governors, and restored to them all their former privi- 
leges. He consulted them frequently, and in a tem- 
per which at least evinced a desire to become thor- 
oughly acquainted with the grounds of the colonial 
complaints, whatever may have been his opinion as to 
the expediency or the manner of removing them. 

At his first interview with Lord Dartmouth on busi- 
ness, Dr. Franklin put into his hands a petition from 
the Assembly of Massachusetts to the King. Hutch- 
inson, the Governor of the province, had lately received 
his salary from the crown, contrary to all former usage, 
and, as the Assembly declared, contrary to the spirit 
and intent of their charter, and to the constitution 
under which the government was established. It was 
a violation of their rights, and an alarming precedent, 
out of which might spring innumerable abuses sub- 
versive of their liberties. It was a prerogative of the 
Assembly, which had never before been encroached 
upon or questioned, to tax the people by laws of their 
own enacting for the support of government; and 

vol. i. 44 

346 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

this was designed not more as a security for the ex- 
istence of government, than as a protection from any 
undue influence of the crown over the officers by 
whom it was administered. The Governor could neg- 
ative their laws, and, being appointed by the King, 
the only tie that bound him to their interests was his 
dependence on them for his means of support. When 
this tie was broken, by making him exclusively de- 
pendent on the crown for his office and his salary, 
no motive remained with- him for cultivating the good 
will of the people, and no restraint which would pre- 
vent him from exercising his power, whenever he 
should think proper, in such a manner as to under- 
mine and ultimately break down the pillars of the con- 
stitution. The Assembly of Massachusetts saw, in this 
dangerous innovation, the ruin of their freedom, if it 
should be allowed to grow into a practice. They 
passed several spirited resolves in opposition to it, and 
petitioned the King for redress. 

It was this petition, w T hich Dr. Franklin handed to 
Lord Dartmouth. When they met again to discourse 
upon the subject, his Lordship advised, that it should 
not be presented for the present; said he was sure 
it would give offence; that it would probably be re- 
ferred to the judges and lawyers for their opinion, 
who would report against it ; and that the King might 
possibly lay it before Parliament, which would bring 
down the censure of both Houses in the shape of a 
reprimand by order of his Majesty. This would irri- 
tate the people, and add fresh fuel to the heats, which 
had already become so violent as to threaten unhap- 
py consequences. He believed it would be better for 
both parties, if a little time could be left for these 
heats to cool; yet, as the petition had been delivered 
to him officially, he w T ould, if Dr. Franklin insisted, 

jEt. 66.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 347 

discharge his duty and present it to the King. Prompt- 
ed by the most friendly feelings towards the province, 
however, he could not but repeat the wish, that it 
might be delayed, till these considerations could be 
stated to the petitioners and new instructions received. 

In reply Dr. Franklin said, that, considering the 
large majority with which the resolves and petition 
had been carried through the House, after long and 
mature deliberation, he could not hope for any change 
upon a revision of the subject ; that the refusing to 
receive petitions from the colonies had occasioned the 
loss of the respect for Parliament, which formerly ex- 
isted ; " that his Lordship might observe, that petitions 
came no more to Parliament, but to the King only ; 
that the King appeared now to be the only connex- 
ion between the two countries ; that, as a continued 
union was necessary to the wellbeing of the whole 
empire, he should be sorry to see that link weakened 
as the other had been ; and that he thought it a dan- 
gerous thing for any government to refuse receiving 
petitions, and thereby prevent the subjects from giv- 
ing vent to their griefs." Lord Dartmouth interrupted 
hirn by saying, that he did not refuse to present the 
petition, that he should never stand in the way of the 
complaints, which should be made to the King by any 
of his subjects, and that, in the present instance, he 
had no other motive for advising delay, than the purest 
good will to the province, and an ardent desire for 
harmony between the two countries. 

Dr. Franklin finally concluded to comply with the 
minister's request, and to wait till he could commu- 
nicate the substance of the conversation, and obtain 
further orders. 

Not long after the adjournment of the Assembly, 
by which this petition had been sent to the King, news 

348 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1772. 

arrived in Boston, that the salaries of the judges, as 
well as that of the Governor, were to be paid by 
the crown. The inhabitants immediately assembled 
in town meeting, and passed resolutions strongly re- 
monstrating against the measure, as tending to com- 
plete the system of bondage, which had been pre- 
paring for the colonies ever since the passage of the 
Stamp Act. These resolutions were clothed in bold 
and energetic language, and they embraced an enu- 
meration of the late acts of the British government, 
which were deemed oppressive and hostile to Amer- 
ican liberty. It was voted also, that a copy of them 
should be transmitted to the other towns in the prov- 
ince, with a circular letter, recommending that the 
people should everywhere assemble in town meetings, 
and express their sentiments in a similar manner. 

Governor Hutchinson took umbrage at these pro- 
ceedings, and used his endeavours to counteract them. 
He denounced the meetings as unlawful, and the Bos- 
ton resolutions as encouraging' such principles, as would 
justify the colonies in a revolt, and in setting up an 
independent state. He moreover charged them main- 
ly to the influence of Franklin. "The claims of the 
colonies," he afterwards said, "were prepared in Eng- 
land, in a more full manner than ever before, with a 
manifest design and tendency to revive a flame, which 
was near expiring. These, it seems to have been 
intended, should be first publicly avowed in Massa- 
chusetts Bay, and that the example should be follow- 
ed by all the other colonies." And again, speaking 
of the Statement of Rights, which was reported by a 
committee appointed for the purpose at the town meet- 
ing of Boston, he adds ; " Although, at its first appear- 
ance, it was considered as their own work, yet they 
had little more to do than to make the necessary al- 

Mr. 66.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 349 

terations in the arrangement of materials prepared for 
them by their great director in England, whose coun- 
sels they obeyed, and in whose wisdom and dexter- 
ity they had an implicit faith." * 

The individual here alluded to, as the "great di- 
rector," was Dr. Franklin; but the charge is utterly 
unfounded. The guiding spirits in Massachusetts well 
understood their rights, and needed no aid from Eng- 
land to teach them in what manner to declare those 
rights to the world. Franklin's correspondence, con- 
taining the advice he actually gave, affords a com- 
plete vindication of his conduct in reference to this 
charge. In fact, his friends in America thought him 
too lukewarm, while those in England were concerned 
at his boldness. He had all along avowed his opin- 
ions without reserve, in his letters and published writ- 
ings, and advised the colonists to hold fast their rights, 
to protest against every encroachment upon them, and 
to reiterate petitions for redress ; but at the same time 
he recommended moderation in the measures of re- 
sistance, because he feared, that any rashness or pre- 
cipitancy in this respect would be seized upon by 
the ministry as a pretext for more severe acts of 
Parliament, and for filling the country with troops to 
crush the spirit of liberty before the people were in 
a condition to maintain it; and because the growing 
strength and importance of the colonies would in due 
time cause them to be respected and their claims to 
be acknowledged. 

When the pamphlet, containing the votes and reso- 
lutions of the town of Boston, came to his hands, 
he had it republished in London, with a Preface writ- 
ten by himself. In this performance he again took 

* Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 364. 

350 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

occasion to describe the condition of the colonists, 
and to explain the nature and reasons of their com- 
plaints, representing their late transactions as the nat- 
ural consequences of the unwise policy of the gov- 
ernment, in driving them to extremities by refusing 
to listen to their petitions and remove their real griev- 
ances. The temper and matter of this Preface were 
such, as to gain from the public a fair hearing to the 
resolutions themselves, which spoke in so high a tone, 
that they would necessarily give great offence to the 
partisans of the ministry, and in some measure cool 
the zeal of those in England, who wished well to the 
American cause. 

The Massachusetts Assembly convened a short time 
after the Boston resolutions were passed. They took 
the same subject and the general state of the prov- 
ince into consideration. The result was another pe- 
tition to the King, which was likewise transmitted to 
Dr. Franklin. He immediately waited on Lord Dart- 
mouth, told him there could be no more delay, and 
requested him to deliver this petition to his Majesty, 
and also the one which had been held in suspense. 
The minister promised to comply with his wishes.* 

About this time Dr. Franklin published anonymous- 
ly two pieces, remarkable for the style in which they 

* It has generally been said, that Dr. Franklin was the first to 
suggest a Continental Congress. In a private letter to Mr. Cushing, 
dated July 7th, 1773, after mentioning the proposal of the Virginia 
House of Burgesses to establish committees of correspondence, he 
says; "It is natural to suppose, as you do, that, if the oppressions 
continue, a congress may grow out of that correspondence. Nothing 
could more alarm our ministers ; but, if the colonies agree to hold a 
congress, I do not see how it can be prevented." In an official let- 
ter, of the same date as the above, which was to be read to the As- 
sembly, he dwells more at large upon the subject, and advances such 
solid reasons for a congress, as to amount to a recommendation. "As 
the strength of an empire," he says, " depends not only on the union of 

;Et.67.] life of franklin. 351 

are composed. They were entitled, Rules for reduc- 
ing a Great Empire to a Small One, and Jin Edict 
by the King of Prussia. An admirable vein of irony 
runs through both these pieces. In the former, all 
the late measures of the British government, in rela- 
tion to the colonies, are brought together under twenty 
distinct heads, and so represented, by an ingenious ar- 
rangement and turn of expression, as to constitute 
general rules, which, if put in practice, would enable 
any ministry to curtail the borders of a great empire 
and reduce it to a small one. 

The Edict purports to have been promulgated with 
much solemnity by the King of Prussia, imposing re- 
straints on the trade and manufactures of the Island 
of Great Britain, for the purpose of replenishing the 
coffers of his Prussian Majesty; it being alleged as 
a reason in the preamble, that the early settlements 
were made by Germans, who were subject to his an- 
cestors, having flourished under their protection, and 
whose descendants were bound to obey the laws of 

its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force ; 
and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commence- 
ment of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to 
the common welfare ; as likewise the refusal of one or a few colonies 
would not be so much regarded, if the others granted liberally, which 
perhaps by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to 
do ; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of gen- 
eral redress, that otherwise might be justly formed ; perhaps it would 
be best and fairest for the colonies, in a general congress now in peace 
to be assembled, or by means of the correspondence lately proposed, 
after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to en- 
gage firmly with each other, that they will never grant aids to the 
crown in any general war, till those rights are recognised by the King 
and both Houses of Parliament ; communicating at the same time to 
the crown this their resolution. Such a step I imagine will bring the 
dispute to a crisis." From these extracts it appears, that there had 
been a hint about a congress in one of Mr. Cushing's previous letters ; 
but it is believed, that no other direct recommendation of the measure 
can be found at so early a date as the above. 

352 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

his kingdom and contribute to its revenues. A par- 
allel is pursued throughout between the actual con- 
duct of the British government, and the pretended 
claims of the King of Prussia upon the inhabitants 
of Great Britain on account of their Saxon origin. 
Lord Mansfield was heard to say of this Edict, "that 
it was very able and very artful indeed, and would 
do mischief by giving in England a bad impression 
of the measures of government, and, in the colonies, 
by encouraging them in their contumacy." The good 
humor, which pervade both these compositions, and 
the pointed manner of expression, attracted to them 
many readers, who would scarcely have turned aside 
to a grave and argumentative discussion of the colo- 
nial controversy. 

During his absence from London, in the summer 
of 1773, he passed a few weeks at the country resi- 
dence of Lord Le Despencer, and employed himself, 
while there, in abridging some parts of the Book of 
Common Prayer. A handsome edition of this abridg- 
ment was printed for Wilkie, in St. Paul's Church 
Yard ; but it seems never to have been adopted in 
any Church, nor to have gained much notice. The 
Preface explains his motives in this undertaking, and 
the principles upon which the alterations were made, 
with remarks on the objects and importance of pub- 
lic worship. At the conclusion he says; "And thus, 
conscious of upright meaning, we submit this abridg- 
ment to the serious consideration of the prudent and 
dispassionate, and not to enthusiasts and bigots, being 
convinced in our own breasts, that this shortened 
method, or one of the same kind better executed, 
would further religion, remove animosity, and occasion 
a more frequent attendance on the worship of God." * 

# See Vol. X. p. 207, where the Preface is printed entire. 

Mt. 67.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 353 

Many experiments were performed by Dr. Frank- 
lin, at different times and places, to show the effect 
of oil in smoothing the surface of water agitated by 
the wind. While on a tour in the north of England 
with Sir John Pringle, he tried this experiment suc- 
cessfully upon the Derwent Water at Keswick. Dr. 
Brownrigg was present, and, in answer to his inqui- 
ries afterwards, Dr. Franklin gave a history of what 
he had done in this way, and explained upon philo- 
sophical principles the singular fact, that had been 
established by his experiments. It was proved by 
numerous trials, that a small quantity of oil poured 
upon a lake or pond, when rough with waves, would 
speedily calm the waves, and produce a smooth and 
glassy surface.. This had often been shown in the 
presence of many spectators. Indeed, he was accus- 
tomed in his travels to carry a little oil in the joint of 
a bamboo cane, by which he could repeat the experi- 
ment whenever an occasion offered. The Abbe Mo- 
rellet mentions his having passed five or six days in 
company with Franklin, Garrick, Dr. Hawkesworth, and 
Colonel Barre, at Wycomb, the seat of Lord Shel- 
burne, where he saw it performed with complete suc- 

He explained as follows the operation of the oil in 
producing this effect. Waves are caused by winds, 
which so far adhere to the water as to raise it into 
ridges by their force. The particles of oil, when 
dropped on water, repel each other, and are also re- 
pelled by the water, so that they do not mingle with 
it. Hence they expand and diffuse themselves on 
the surface, till they meet with some obstruction, cov- 
ering the water with an extremely thin and continu- 

* M6moires de l'Abb6 Morellet, Tom. I. p. 197. 
VOL. I. 45 DD * 

354 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

ous film. The wind slides over this film, without com- 
ing in contact with the water, and thus the waves 
subside. The most remarkable thing observable in 
the process is the expansive power of the oil, by which 
a few drops will spread over a large surface, if they 
meet with no obstruction.* 

Dr. Franklin's mind was always more or less in- 
tent upon philosophical studies, for which his habits 
of observation and reflection peculiarly fitted him; yet 
he wrote little on subjects of this kind during his 
second mission to England. His various political du- 
ties, and the deep interest he took in the affairs of 
his country, absorbed his time and thoughts. He wrote 
a few pieces, however, on electricity and other kin- 
dred subjects, and one on the analogy between elec- 
tricity and magnetism. He also sketched the plan of 
an elaborate essay on the causes of taking cold. It 
was never finished, but he left copious notes, from 
which it appears that he made extensive investigations, 
and formed a theory by which he imagined, that the 
nature of the malady would be better understood, and 
that more easy and effectual preventives might be used. 

A new edition of his philosophical writings was 
published at Paris in 1773, translated by Barbeu-Du- 
bourg, a man of considerable eminence in the scien- 
tific world, and apparently well qualified for the task 
he undertook of translator and commentator. There 

* The whole of the letter to Dr. Brownrigg is curious, containing 
anecdotes, and details of experiments. See Vol. VI. p. 357. Dr. 
Franklin did not pretend to have discovered this property of oil. He 
had read, when a youth, Pliny's " account of a practice among seamen 
of his time to still the waves in a storm by pouring oil into the sea," 
and had heard of a similar practice among seamen and fishermen in 
modern times. But he seems to have been the first, who tried experi- 
ments with the view of ascertaining the fact, and who attempted to 
explain its cause. 

iET. 67.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 355 

had already been two French editions, but M. Du- 
bourg's is much superior to either of them, as well in 
the matter it contains as in the style of its execution. 
It is handsomely printed, in two volumes quarto, and 
includes several original pieces communicated to him 
by the author. It comprises nearly all he had written 
on electricity and other philosophical subjects, with a 
few of his political and miscellaneous papers. The 
translator's notes are valuable. A fifth edition of the 
philosophical writings was nearly at the same time 
published in London. 

356 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [1773. 


Hutchinson's Letters. — How they first became known to Franklin. — 
His .Motives for transmitting them to Massachusetts. — Proceedings 
of the Assembly concerning them. — Dr. Cooper's Remarks on that 
Occasion. — Petition for the Removal of Hutchinson and Oliver present- 
ed by Franklin. — Duel between Temple and Whately. — Franklin's 
Declaration that the Letters had been transmitted by him. — Whate- 
ly commences against him a Chancery Suit. — Proceedings of the 
Privy Council on the Petition. — Further Account of those Proceed- 
ings. — Wedderburn's abusive Speech.— The Petition rejected. — 
Franklin dismissed from his Place at the Head of the American 

We are now come to the date of a transaction, 
which contributed to reveal the origin of some of the 
most offensive proceedings of the British government 
against the colonies, and which subjected Dr. Franklin 
to much obloquy and abuse from the supporters of the 

In December, 1772, he procured and sent to Mr. 
Cushing, chairman of the Committee of Correspond- 
ence in Massachusetts, certain original letters, which 
had been written by Governor Hutchinson, Lieutenant- 
Governor Oliver, and others, to Mr. Thomas Whately, 
a member of Parliament, and for a time secretary un- 
der one of the ministers. These letters, though not 
official, related wholly to public affairs, and were in- 
tended to affect public measures. They were filled 
with representations, in regard to the state of things 
in the colonies, as contrary to the truth, as they 
were insidious in their design. The discontents and 
commotions were ascribed to a factious spirit among 
the people, stirred up by a few intriguing leaders ; and 
it was intimated, that this spirit would be subdued, and 
submission to the acts of Parliament would be attain- 

jEt. 67.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 357 

ed, by the presence of a military force, and by per- 
severing in the coercive measures already begun. 
When Dr. Franklin sent over these letters, he stated 
to Mr. Gushing his motives for doing it, and his opin- 
ion of their objects and tendency. 

"On this occasion," he says, "I think it fit to ac- 
quaint you, that there has lately fallen into my hands 
part of a correspondence, that I have reason to be- 
lieve laid the foundation of most, if not all, our pres- 
ent grievances. I am not at liberty to tell through 
what channel I received it ; and I have engaged that 
it shall not be printed, nor copies taken of the whole, 
or any part of it ; but I am allowed to let it be seen 
by some men of worth in the province, for their sat- 
isfaction only. In confidence of your preserving invi- 
olably my engagement, I send you enclosed the origi- 
nal letters, to obviate every pretence, of unfairness in 
copying, interpolation, or omission. The hands of the 
gentlemen will be well known. Possibly they may 
not like such an exposal of their conduct, however 
tenderly and privately it may be managed. But, if 
they are good men, or pretend to be such, and agree 
that all good men wish a good understanding and har- 
mony to subsist between the colonies and their mother 
country, they ought the less to regret, that, at the 
small expense of their reputation for sincerity and pub- 
lic spirit among their compatriots, so desirable an event 
may in some degree be forwarded. For my own part, 
I cannot but acknowledge, that my resentment against 
this country, for its arbitrary measures in governing us, 
conducted by the late minister, has, since my convic- 
tion by these papers that those measures were project- 
ed, advised, and called for by men of character among 
ourselves, and whose advice must therefore be attend- 
ed with all the weight that was proper to mislead, 

358 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

and which could therefore scarce fail of misleading ; 
my own resentment, I say, has by this means been 
exceedingly abated. 7" think they must have the same 
effect with you ; but I am not, as I have said, at lib- 
erty to make the letters public. I can only allow 
them' to be seen by yourself, by the other gentlemen 
of the Committee of Correspondence, by Messrs. Bow- 
doin and Pitts of the Council, and Drs. Chauncy, 
Cooper, and Winthrop, with a few such other gentle- 
men as you may think fit to show them to. After 
being some months in your possession, you are re- 
quested to return them to me. 

" As to the writers, I can easily as well as charitably 
conceive it possible, that men educated in preposses- 
sions of the unbounded authority of Parliament, &c. 
may think unjustifiable ever}' opposition even to its un- 
constitutional exactions, and imagine it their duty to 
suppress, as much as in them lies, such opposition. 
But, when I find them bartering away the liberties of 
their native country for posts, and negotiating for sala- 
ries and pensions extorted from the people ; and, con- 
scious of the odium these might be attended with, call- 
ing for troops to protect and secure the enjoyment of 
them ; when I see them exciting jealousies in the crown, 
and provoking it to work against so great a part of its 
most faithful subjects ; creating enmities between the 
different countries of which the empire consists ; occa- 
sioning a great expense to the old country for suppress- 
ing or preventing imaginary rebellions in the new, and 
to the new country for the payment of needless grati- 
fications to useless officers and enemies ; I cannot but 
doubt their sincerity even in the political principles they 
profess, and deem them mere time-servers, seeking 
their own private emolument, through any quantity of 
public mischief ; betrayers of the interest, not of their 

Mt. 67.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 359 

native country only, but of the government they pre- 
tend to serve, and of the whole English empire." 

The manner in which the letters fell into his hands 
was never explained. In the account of the affair, 
which he wrote previously to his leaving England, 
but which was not published till many years after his 
death, he says, the first hint he had of their existence 
was from a gentleman of character and distinction, in 
conversation with whom he strongly condemned the 
sending of troops to Boston, as a measure fraught 
with mischief, and from which the worst consequen- 
ces were to be apprehended. The gentleman assured 
him, " that not only the measure he particularly cen- 
sured so warmly, but all the other grievances com- 
plained of, took their rise, not from the government, 
but were projected, proposed to administration, solicit- 
ed, and obtained, by some of the most respectable 
among the Americans themselves, as necessary meas- 
ures for the welfare of that country.' As he seemed 
incredulous, the gentleman said he could bring such 
testimony as would convince him ; and a few days 
after he produced the letters in question. He was as- 
tonished, but could no longer doubt, because the hand- 
writing, particularly of Hutchinson and Oliver, was rec- 
ognised by him, and their signatures were affixed. 

The name of the person, to whom they were ad- 
dressed, was nowhere written upon them. It either 
had been erased, or perhaps the letters themselves 
were originally forwarded under envelopes, which had 
not been preserved. There is no evidence from which 
it can be inferred, that Dr. Franklin at that time 
knew the name of this person, or that he was ever 
informed of the manner in which the letters were ob- 
tained. If this secret was ever revealed to him, he 
does not appear to have disclosed it, and it is still a 

360 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

mystery. Three individuals, besides himself, were ac- 
quainted with the circumstance of their being sent. 
One of these was Mr. John Temple ; the names of 
the other two are not known. It has been said, that 
one of them was a member of Parliament. 

Acting in this business from an imperative sense of 
duty, Dr. Franklin took no pains to screen himself 
from consequences. IJe mentioned the subject sev- 
eral times in his correspondence with Mr. Gushing and 
Dr. Cooper, but he did not in any instance intimate 
a wish, that his name as connected with it, or his 
agency, should be concealed. Mr. Cushing proceeded 
with caution, however, and informed two gentlemen 
only of the source from which the letters had come ; 
and these gentlemen kept the secret till it was pub- 
lished by Dr. Franklin himself in London. Nor was 
it known, except to these individuals, by whom the 
letters were received in Boston. Mr. Cushing said, 
in writing to Dr. Franklin, "I desire, so far as I am 
concerned, my name may not be mentioned; for it 
may be a damage to me." This injunction was obey- 
ed to the last. 

Although the names of the persons chiefly concerned 
were thus kept out of sight, yet the letters themselves 
were seen by many persons; the instructions in this 
respect not confining them within narrow limits. Mr. 
John Adams carried them about with him on a judi- 
cial circuit. The rumor of their existence, and of the 
general character of their contents, soon got abroad ; 
and, when the legislature met, the members became 
exceedingly inquisitive and solicitous concerning them. 
It was finally concluded to lay them before the As- 
sembly, which usually sat with closed doors. They 
were read, but nothing could be done with them, 
while the prohibition against taking copies remained. 

/Ex. 67.] life of franklin. 361 

Soon after, copies were produced in the House, " said 
to have come from England by the last ships." The 
originals being already before the House, the accuracy 
of the copies could easily be proved. While they 
were under consideration, Dr. Cooper wrote a letter 
to Dr. Franklin, dated Boston, June 14th, 1773, from 
which the following is an extract. 

" Many members scrupled to act upon these copies, 
while they were under such public engagements to 
the unknown proprietor of the originals. As the mat- 
ter was now so public, and the restrictions could an- 
swer no good end, no view of the sender, but, on the 
contrary, might prevent in a great measure a proper 
use of the letters for the public benefit, and for weak- 
ening the influence and power of the writers and their 
friends, and disarming their revenge, it was judged 
most expedient, by the gentlemen to whom they were 
first shown, to allow the House such use of the origi- 
nals, as they might think necessary to found their pro- 
ceedings upon for the common safety. By whom and 
to whom they were sent is still a secret, known only 
to three persons here, and may still remain so, if you 
desire it. 

" I forgot to mention, that, upon the first appearance 
of the letters in the House, they voted, by a majority 
of one hundred and one to five, that the design and 
tendency of them were to subvert the constitution, and 
introduce arbitrary power. Their committee upon this 
matter reported this day a number of resolutions, which 
are to be printed by to-morrow morning, and every 
member furnished with a copy, that they may compare 
them with the letters ; and to-morrow at three o'clock 
in the afternoon is the time appointed to decide upon 
the report. The acceptance of it by a great major- 
ity is not doubted. 

vol.i. 46 EE 


362 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1773. 

"Nothing could have been more seasonable than 
the arrival of these letters. They have had great ef- 
fect; they make deep impressions wherever they are 
known; they strip the mask from the writers, who, 
under the professions of friendship to their country, 
now plainly appear to have been endeavouring to build 
up themselves and their families upon its ruins. They 
and their adherents are shocked and dismayed; the 
confidence reposed in them by many is annihilated ; 
and administration must soon see the necessity of put- 
ting the provincial power of the crown into other hands, 
if they mean it should operate to any good effect. 
This, at present, is almost the universal sentiment." 

The resolutions here mentioned, as having been re- 
ported by a committee of the House, were passed 
the next day by a very large majority, warmly cen- 
suring the letters, as having the tendency and design 
not only to sow the seeds of discord and encourage 
the oppressive acts of the British government, but to 
introduce arbitrary power into the province, and sub- 
vert its constitution. A petition to the King was then 
voted with the same unanimity, praying his Majesty 
to remove from office Governor Hutchinson and Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Oliver, who, by their conduct, had 
rendered themselves obnoxious to the people, and en- 
tirely lost their confidence.* 

* Governor Hutchinson says, that he "received early information 
from whom, and to whom, these letters were sent, and with what 
injunctions, from a person let into the secret." Dr. Franklin had, in- 
deed, written to Dr. Cooper, that "the letters might be shown to some 
of the Governor's and Lieutenant-Governor's partisans, and spoken of 
to everybody, for there was no restraint proposed to talking of them, 
but only to copying." There was, nevertheless, a want of good faith 
somewhere, as well in other cases as in this. Copies of Franklin's 
letters were secretly procured and communicated to Hutchinson, who is 
known to have sent one of them to the ministry, and it may be pre- 

jEt, 67.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 363 

When the petition arrived, Lord Dartmouth was at 
his seat in the country. Dr. Franklin transmitted it to 
him, and his Lordship, after his return to town, in- 
formed him, that it had been presented to his Majes- 
ty ; but, from the tenor of the minister's conversation, 
he was led to suspect, that it would not be complied 

In the mean time an event took place, which caused 
much excitement. Hutchinson's letters had been print- 
ed in Boston, and copies of them came over to Lon- 
don. Public curiosity was raised, and great inquiry 
was made, as to the person by whom they had been 
transmitted. Mr. Thomas Whately was dead, and. his 
papers had gone into the possession of his brother, 
Mr. William Whately, who was censured for allowing 
the letters to be taken away. Mr. Temple had asked 
permission of him to examine his brother's papers, 
with the view of perusing a certain document on co- 
lonial affairs, which he believed to be among them. 
The permission was granted ; and now Mr. Whately's 
suspicion rested upon Mr. Temple, whom he imagined 
to have taken advantage of this opportunity to gain 

sumed that this was not a solitary instance. In his History is publish- 
ed an extract from one of Franklin's letters to Dr. Cooper, which could 
hardly have been obtained otherwise than surreptitiously. And, what is 
worse, there is an omission and a substitution, which materially alter the 
sense, and misrepresent the motives of the writer. The extract relates 
to the reasons for refusing copies of the letters. As printed in Hutch- 
inson's History, it is made to close as follows ; — " And possibly, as dis- 
tant objects seen through, a mist appear larger, the same may happen 
from the mystery in this case." Nothing like this was written by Frank- 
lin. It was invented for the occasion. His words, for which the above 
were substituted, are the following. "However, the terms given with 
these [the original letters] could only be those with which they were re- 
ceived." The design of the forgery is obvious. With whom it origi- 
nated is uncertain. It may have been done before the extract was con- 
veyed to Hutchinson. — See Vol. VIII. p. 72. — History of Massachu- 
setts, Vol. IIL p. 396. 

364 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

possession of the letters in question. A duel was the 
consequence, in which Mr. Whately was wounded. 

At this crisis Dr. Franklin felt himself bound to in- 
terfere. He immediately published a declaration, in 
which he assumed the entire responsibility of having 
transmitted the letters, and said, that, as they were 
not among Mr. Thomas Whately's papers when these 
passed into the hands of his brother, neither he nor 
Mr. Temple could have been concerned in withdraw- 
ing them. The whole tide of obloquy was now turned 
against Dr Franklin. He was assailed by the friends 
of Mr. Whately for not having prevented the duel by 
an earlier declaration ; and he was vehemently attacked 
by the retainers of the ministry for the part he had 
acted in procuring and sending the letters. To the 
first charge it is enough to say, that he had no inti- 
mation of the duel till it was over. He thought him- 
self entitled to the thanks of the parties, rather than 
their censure, for thus relieving them from suspicion 
in the eyes of the public, and removing the cause of 
their personal difference. As to the other charge, it 
was no more than he expected ; and he was prepared 
to meet it with a clear conscience, having no private 
ends to serve in the transaction, and no other motive 
than justice to his country. 

Mr. Whately did not stop here. Without any pre- 
vious warning or complaint, he commenced a chan- 
cery suit against Dr. Franklin. The bill contained a 
strange list of false specifications, all of which were 
denied on oath by Dr. Franklin, who affirmed at the 
same time, in reference to the letters, that, when they 
were given to him, no address appeared on them, and 
that he had not previously any knowledge of their 
existence. At this stage of the business the chan- 
cery suit seems to have been suspended, and it was 
finally dropped. He considered this an ungrateful, as 

^t. 68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 365 

well as a precipitate, step of Mr. Whately, to whom 
he had lately rendered an important service, by en- 
abling him to secure a valuable property in Pennsyl- 

Notice was at length given to Dr. Franklin, that his 
Majesty had referred the petition to the Privy Coun- 
cil, and that a meeting would be held in three days 
to take it into consideration at the Cockpit, where his 
attendance was required. He accordingly appeared 
thereat the time appointed, January 11th, 1774, with 
Mr. Bollan, the agent for the Massachusetts Council. 
The petition was read, and Dr. Franklin was asked 
what he had to offer in support of it. He replied, 
that Mr. Bollan would speak in behalf of the petition- 
ers, this having been agreed upon between them. Mr. 
Bollan began to speak, but he was silenced by the 
Lords of the Council, because he was not the agent 
for the Assembly. It then appeared, that Hutchinson 
and Oliver had employed Mr. Wedderburn, the King's 
solicitor, as their counsel, who was then present, and 
ready to go on with their defence. Authenticated 
copies of the letters were produced, and some con- 
versation ensued, in which Mr. Wedderburn advanced 
divers cavils against them, and said it would be ne- 
cessary to know how the Assembly came by them, 
through whose hands they had passed, and to whom 
they were addressed. To this the Lord Chief Jus- 
tice assented. 

When Mr. Wedderburn proceeded to speak fur- 
ther, Dr. Franklin interrupted him, and said he had 
not understood that counsel was to be employed against 
the petition. He did not conceive, that any point 
of law or right was involved, which required the ar- 
guments of lawyers, but he supposed it to be rather 
" a question of civil and political prudence " ; in which 
No. 8. EE * 

366 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

their Lordships would decide, from the state of facts 
presented in the papers themselves, whether the com- 
plaints of the petitioners were well founded, and wheth- 
er the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor had so far 
rendered themselves obnoxious to the people, as to 
make it for the interest of his Majesty's service to 
remove them. He then requested, that counsel might 
likewise be heard in behalf of the Assembly. The 
request was granted, and three weeks were allowed 
for preparation. 

"A report now prevailed through the town," Dr. 
Franklin afterwards wrote, "that I had been grossly 
abused by the solicitor-general, at the Council Board. 
But this was premature. He had only intended it, 
and mentioned that intention. I heard, too, from all 
quarters, that the ministry and all the courtiers were 
highly enraged against me for transmitting those let- 
ters. I was called an incendiary, and the papers were 
filled with invectives against me. Hints were given 
me, that there were some thoughts of apprehending 
me, seizing my papers, and sending me to Newgate. 
I was well informed, that a resolution was taken to 
deprive me of my place; it was only thought best 
to defer it till after the hearing; I suppose, because 
I was there to be so blackened, that nobody should 
think it injustice. Many knew, too, how the petition 
was to be treated; and I was told, even before the 
first hearing, that it was to be rejected with some epi- 
thets, the Assembly to be censured, and some honor 
done the governors. How this could be known, one 
cannot say. It might be only conjecture." 

Mr. Dunning and Mr. John Lee, two eminent bar- 
risters, were the counsel employed for the Assembly. 
They concluded to rest the argument on the facts 
stated in the petition and the Assembly's other pa- 
pers, showing the discontents of the people, and the 

JSt. 68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 367 

expediency of removing officers, whose conduct had 
made them so odious, that their usefulness was at 
an end ; and not to touch upon the objectionable parts 
of the letters, these being of a political nature, the 
falsehood of which it would be difficult to prove. Nor, 
indeed, would any proof be satisfactory to judges, who 
deemed these very offences, so much detested by the 
people, as meritorious acts in support of the arbitrary 
designs of the government. If this was not manifest 
from what had already passed, it was made so by 
the manner in which the petition was treated, when 
it came again to be considered by the Council. This 
extraordinary scene was described by Dr. Franklin, a 
few days after its occurrence. 

"Notwithstanding the intimations I had received, I 
could not believe that the solicitor-general would be 
permitted to wander from the question before their 
Lordships, into a new case, the accusation of another 
person for another matter, not cognizable before them, 
who could not expect to be there so accused, and 
therefore could not be prepared for his defence. And 
yet all this happened, and in all probability was pre- 
concerted ; for all the courtiers were invited, as to an 
entertainment, and there never was such an appear- 
ance of privy counsellors on any occasion, not less 
than thirty-five, besides an immense crowd of other 

"The hearing began by reading my letter to Lord 
Dartmouth, enclosing the petition, then the petition 
itself, the resolves, and lastly the letters, the solicitor- 
general making no objections, nor asking any of the 
questions he had talked of at the preceding board. 
Our counsel then opened the matter, upon their general 
plan, and acquitted themselves very handsomely ; only 
Mr. Dunning, having a disorder on his lungs, that 
weakened his voice exceedingly, was not so perfectly 

368 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

heard as one could have wished. The solicitor-general 
then went into what he called a history of the prov- 
ince for the last ten years, and bestowed plenty of 
abuse upon it, mingled with encomium on the gover- 
nors. But the favorite part of his discourse was lev- 
elled at your agent, who stood there the butt of his 
invective ribaldry for near an hour, not a single Lord 
adverting to the impropriety and indecency of treating 
a public messenger in so ignominious a manner, who 
was present only as the . person delivering your peti- 
tion, with the consideration of which no part of his 
conduct had any concern. If he had done a wrong, 
in obtaining and transmitting the letters, that was not 
the tribunal where he was to be accused and tried. 
The cause was already before the Chancellor. Not 
one of their Lordships checked and recalled the ora- 
tor to the business before them, but, on the contrary, 
a very few excepted, they seemed to enjoy highly the 
entertainment, and frequently burst out in loud ap- 
plauses. This part of his speech was thought so 
good, that they have since printed it, in order to de- 
fame me everywhere, and particularly to destroy my 
reputation on your side of the water; but the grosser 
parts of the abuse are omitted, appearing, I suppose, 
in their own eyes, too foul to be seen on paper; so 
that the speech, compared to what it was, is now per- 
fectly decent. I send you one of the copies. My 
friends advise me to write an answer, which I purpose 

"The reply of Mr. Dunning concluded. Being very 
ill, and much incommoded by standing so long, his 
voice was so feeble, as to be scarce audible. What 
little I heard was very well said, but appeared to have 
little effect. 

" Their Lordships' Report, which I send you, is dated 
the same day. It contains a severe censure, as you 

jEt.68.] life of franklin. 369 

will see, on the petition and the petitioners, and, as I 
think, a very unfair conclusion from my silence, that 
the charge of surreptitiously obtaining the letters was 
a true one; though the solicitor, as appears in the 
printed speech, had acquainted them that that matter 
was before the Chancellor; and my counsel had stated 
the impropriety of my answering there to charges then 
trying in another court. In truth, I came by them 
honorably, and my intention in sending them was vir- 
tuous, if an endeavour to lessen the breach between 
two states of the same empire be such, by showing 
that the injuries complained of by one of them did 
not proceed from the other, but from traitors among 

After this judicial farce, no one could be surprised 
at the result. Their Lordships reported, "that the 
petition was founded upon resolutions formed upon 
false and erroneous allegations, and that the same was 
groundless, vexatious, and scandalous, and calculated 
only for the seditious purpose of keeping up a spirit 
of clamor and discontent in the provinces." The King 
approved the Report, and the petition was dismissed. 
And such was the language, which the British rulers 
thought proper to use in replying to the respectful 
complaints of an ancient and populous ^province. If 
the people would bear this, they might well say, that 
their long cherished freedom had become an empty 
sound and a mockery. Let history tell how they bore 
it, and how long. 

The next day Dr. Franklin was officially informed 
of his being dismissed from the place of deputy post- 
master-general. For this manifestation of the royal 
displeasure he was prepared, as well by previous in- 
timations as by the proceedings of the Council. It 
cannot be supposed, that he was callous to these in- 

vol. i. 47 

370 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

dignities, especially as they were intended to over- 
whelm him with disgrace, and ruin his credit and 
influence. But he suppressed his resentment, and 
took no steps either to vindicate himself, or to coun- 
teract the malicious arts of his enemies, conscious of 
having done only what his duty required. When the 
facts came to be known and understood, his conduct 
was applauded by every friend of liberty and justice 
in both countries. He gained new credit, instead of 
losing what he possessed^ thus baffling the iniquitous 
schemes of his adversaries, whom he lived to see 
entangled in their own toils, and whose disgraceful 
overthrow it was his fortune to be a principal instru- 
ment in effecting. 

From this time he kept aloof from the ministers, 
going no more to their levees, nor seeking any fur- 
ther intercourse with them. He contemplated bring- 
ing his affairs to a close in England and returning 
home ; and with this view he put the papers relating 
to the Massachusetts agency into the hands of Mr. 
Arthur Lee, who had been appointed to succeed him 
whenever he should retire. Mr. Lee went over to the 
continent, to be absent several months; and then Dr. 
Franklin took upon himself again the business of the 
agency, thinking it improper to leave the post vacant, 
till the Assembly should be apprized of the absence 
of Mr. Lee, and of his own wish to withdraw.* 

* The following extract from a letter, written by Dr. Rush to Arthur 
Lee, will show the estimation in which Dr. Franklin was at this time 
held by his countrymen. " There is a general union among- the colo- 
nies," says Dr. Rush, " which no artifices of a ministry will be able to 
break. Dr. Franklin is a very popular character in every part of Amer- 
ica. He will be received, and carried in triumph to his house, when 
he arrives amongst us. It is to be hoped he will not consent to hold 
any more offices under government. No step but this can prevent his 
being handed down to posterity among the first and greatest characters 
in the world." — Philadelphia, May 4th, 1774. 

J&T. 68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 371 


Franklin remains in England to await the Result of the Continental 
Congress. — Josiah Q,uincy, Junior. — Anecdotes. — Death of Dr. Frank- 
lin's Wife. — Family Incidents. — He receives and presents the Pe- 
tition of Congress. — Rejected by Parliament. — Galloway's Plan of 
Union. — Franklin's Attempts to promote a Reconciliation between 
the two Countries. — Visits Lord Chatham. — Remarks on Indepen- 
dence. — Mrs. Howe. — He draws up Articles as the Basis of a Ne- 
gotiation, at the Request of Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay. — These 
Articles shown to the Ministers, and various Conferences concerning 
them. — Interviews with Lord Howe respecting some Mode of Rec- 
onciliation. — He drafts another Paper for that Purpose. — Lord 
Chatham's Approval of the Proceedings of Congress. — Lord Cam- 
den. — Lord Chatham's Motion in Parliament. — Franklin's Interviews 
with him in forming a Plan of Reconciliation. — This Plan offered to 
Parliament, and rejected. — Negotiation resumed and broken off. — 
Franklin sails from England and arrives in Philadelphia. 

In the mean time the news arrived, that a Conti- 
nental Congress was about to convene, and, by the 
advice of his friends, Dr. Franklin concluded to wait 
the issue of that event. "My situation here," he ob- 
serves, " is thought by many to be a little hazardous ; 
for if, by some accident, the troops and people of 
New England should come to blows, I should proba- 
bly be taken up; the ministerial people affecting ev- 
erywhere to represent me as the cause of all the 
misunderstanding ; and I have been frequently cau- 
tioned to secure my papers, and by some advised to 
withdraw. But I venture to stay, in compliance with 
the wish of others, till the result of the Congress ar- 
rives, since they suppose my being here might on that 
occasion be of use; and I confide in my innocence, 
that the worst which can happen to me will be an 
imprisonment upon suspicion, though that is a thing 

372 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

I should much desire to avoid, as it may be expensive 
and vexatious, as well as dangerous to my health." 
In this state of uncertainty and suspense he was 
greatly cheered by the arrival of Josiah Quincy, Junior, 
from Boston, the son of his old and valued friend, 
Josiah Quincy, of Braintree. Among the patriots of 
Massachusetts, who had signalized themselves in op- 
posing the arbitrary acts of the British government, 
Josiah Quincy, Junior, was second to no one in tal- 
ents, zeal, and activity. Having taken a conspicuous 
part in the late transactions, he was enabled to inform 
Dr. Franklin of all that had been done, and of the 
character and purposes of the prominent leaders ; and 
it was a source of mutual satisfaction to find a per- 
fect harmony of sentiment between themselves on the 
great subject, which had now become of vital impor- 
tance to their country. In one of his letters, dated 
November 27th, Mr. Quincy says, "Dr. Franklin is 
an American in heart and soul ; you may trust him ; 
his ideas are not contracted within the narrow limits 
of exemption from taxes, but are extended upon the 
broad scale of total emancipation. He is explicit and 
bold upon the subject, and his hopes are as sanguine 
as my own, of the triumph of liberty in America."* 
Mr. Quincy was in England four months, and held 
almost daily intercourse with Dr. Franklin. He also 
visited Lord North, Lord Dartmouth, and some of the 
other ministers, at their request, conversed frequently 
with members of Parliament, and on all occasions de- 
fended the rights and conduct of his countrymen with 

* Dr. Gordon, who had imbibed the prejudices of a party against 
Dr. Franklin, as is obvious in various parts of his History, omits in quot- 
ing this passage, the clause, — " you may trust him," — and also, — 
"his hopes are as sanguine as my own, of the triumph of liberty in 
America," — Gordon's History, 1st ed., Vol. I. p. 434. 

Mr. 68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 373 

the same freedom and firmness, that he would have 
used among his most intimate friends in Boston.* 

While Dr. Franklin was making preparations to 
leave England early in the spring, and looking for- 
ward to a happy meeting with his family, from whom 
he had been separated ten years, he received the af- 
flicting intelligence of the death of his wife. She was 
attacked with a paralytic stroke, which she survived 
only five days. For some months she had com- 
plained of occasional ill health, but nothing serious 
was apprehended by her friends, although she was 

* He relates the following anecdote. " In the course of conversation 
Dr. Franklin said, that more than sixteen years ago, long before any 
dispute with America, the present Lord Camden, then Mr. Pratt, said 
to him, { For all what you Americans say of your loyalty, and all that, 
I know you will one day throw off your dependence on this country ; 
and, notwithstanding your boasted affection for it, you will set up for 
independence.' Dr. Franklin said that he answered him, { No such 
idea was ever entertained by the Americans, nor will any such ever 
enter their heads, unless you grossly abuse them.' ' Very true,' re- 
plied Mr. Pratt, 'that is one of the main causes I see will happen, 
and will produce the event.'" — Journal, Dec. 14th. 

Two years before Mr. Quincy's voyage to England, he made a tour 
for his health through the southern and middle provinces. At Phil- 
adelphia he fell in company with some of the Proprietary party, who 
spoke disparagingly of Dr. Franklin, and he wrote down an opinion of 
that kind in his Journal. On the same page of the Journal he after- 
wards made the following record. — " London, January^ 1775. I am 
now very well satisfied, that the abovenamed Doctor has been gross- 
ly calumniated ; and I have one more reason to induce me to be cau- 
tious how I hearken to the slander of envious or malevolent tongues. 
This minute I thought it but justice to insert, in order to take off any 
impression to the disadvantage of Dr. Franklin, who I am now fully 
convinced is one of the wisest and best of men upon earth ; one, of 
whom it may be said that this world is not worthy." — MS. Journal. 

Mr. Quincy's health rapidly declined in England, and the voyage 
homeward exhausted him so much, that he died a few hours before 
the vessel entered the harbour of Cape Ann, on the 26th of April, 1775, 
at the early age of thirty-one. The Memoir of his IAfe, by his son, 
is a valuable tribute to his memory, interesting in its details, and a 
rich contribution to the history of the country. 

374 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

heard to express a conviction, that she should not 
recover. They had been married forty-four years, and 
lived together in a state of uninterrupted harmony and 

Their correspondence during his long absence, a 
great part of which has been preserved, is affection- 
ate on both sides, exhibiting proofs of an unlimited 
confidence and devoted attachment. He omitted no 
opportunity to send her whatever he thought would 
contribute to her convenience and comfort, accompa- 
nied by numerous little tokens of remembrance and 
affection. So much did he rely on her prudence and 
capacity, that, when abroad, he intrusted to her the 
management of his private affairs. Many years after 
her death, in writing to a young lady, he said ; " Fru- 
gality is an enriching virtue; a virtue I never could 
acquire myself; but I was once lucky enough to find 
it in a wife, who therefore became a fortune to me." 
The little song, which he wrote in her praise, is mark- 
ed with a playful tenderness, and contains sentiments 
creditable to his feelings as a man and a husband. 
In his autobiography and letters he often mentions his 
wife, and always with a kindness and respect, which 
could proceed only from genuine sensibility and a high 
estimate of her character and virtues.* 

A late English writer, who in the main has done 
justice to Franklin, thinks it strange, that so little has 
been said of his family connexions ; and insinuates, that, 
in his days of prosperity, he was less attentive to his 
poor relations, than would be expected from one, 
so remarkable for benevolence and philanthropy in his 

* Mrs. Franklin died at Philadelphia, December 19th, 1774, and was 
buried in the cemetery of Christ's Church, on the side next to Arch 

jEt.68.] life of franklin. 375 

intercourse with society and in all his public acts. 
To remove such a suspicion, it is only necessary to 
peruse his writings, and study his history. The tale 
of his early years is told by himself in his own sim- 
ple and expressive language, and no one will say, 
that it is deficient in a lively concern for the welfare 
of his relatives, or in the natural sympathies of a son 
and a brother. His circumstances were as humble, and 
his fortunes as adverse, as those of any of his family ; 
and, before he had gained a competency, many of 
them had passed off the stage. When his wife died, 
the last of his sixteen brothers and sisters, except 
the youngest, had been dead eight years, his father 
twenty-eight, and his mother twenty. 

Neither his parents, nor more than two or three of 
his brothers and sisters, needed his assistance. His 
brother James died at Newport in Rhode Island, 
leaving a widow and children, whom he befriended 
and aided many years. His brother Peter died at an 
advanced age in Philadelphia, having been established 
there by Dr. Franklin, and assisted by him in pro- 
curing a support. His youngest sister, Jane, who mar- 
ried Edward Mecom, resided the most of her life in 
Boston, and was left a widow with several children. 
Her means of support were small, and her misfor- 
tunes many ; but she was sustained by his affectionate 
kindness and liberal bounty as long as he lived, of 
which there are abundant evidences in her letters of 
grateful acknowledgment. More than any others of 
the family, she resembled him in the strength of her 
character and intellect. Her eldest son found a home 
in his family, till he had learned the printer's trade, 
when he was set up in business by his uncle. Dr. 
Franklin met in England a relation of the same name, 
but of another branch of the family, old and poor, 

376 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

who had an only daughter eleven years of age. This 
child he took home to his lodgings in London, with no 
other than charitable motives, and had her educated 
and maintained at his charge till she was married. 

No father was ever more kind, devoted, or gener- 
ous to his own children. His eldest son, William, 
was his constant companion at home and abroad in 
his youth, and afterwards the object of his confidence 
and paternal regard, till he estranged himself by his 
violent political conduct, sacrificing the ties of kindred 
to the schemes of ambition. Francis Folger, his sec- 
ond son, died when he was only four years old, of 
whom his father said, "Though now dead thirty-six 
years, to this day I cannot think of him without a 
sigh." His daughter, Sarah, alone remained to soothe 
his old age, and administer to his last wants in a 
lingering disease. From her birth she experienced 
from him all that a father's fondness, indulgence, and 
counsel could bestow, and he bequeathed to her the 
principal part of the fortune, which he had acquired 
by years of laborious industry, and by the habitual 
practice of his rigid maxims of economy and prudence. 

On all occasions he was prompt to assist the ne- 
cessitous, and liberal in his benefactions and deeds of 
charity. For public objects his contributions were in 
full proportion to his means. He had a delicate way 
of giving money, which he called lending it for the 
good of mankind. To an English clergyman, a pris- 
oner in France, whose wants he relieved by a sum 
of money, he wrote; "Some time or other you may 
have an opportunity of assisting with an equal sum a 
stranger who has equal need of it. Do so. By that 
means you will discharge any obligation you may sup- 
pose yourself under to me. Enjoin him to do the 
same on occasion. By pursuing such a practice, much 

iEi\68.] life of franklin. 377 

good may be done with little money. Let kind offi- 
ces go round. Mankind are all of a family." This 
was a common practice with him, by which he could 
spare the feelings of the receiver, and practically in- 
culcate the maxim of doing good. 

About the middle of December, 1774, Dr. Franklin 
received the petition of the first Continental Congress 
to the King, with a letter from the president of Con- 
gress to the several colonial agents in London, re- 
questing them to present the petition. All the agents, 
except Franklin, Bollan, and Lee, declined acting in 
the business, alleging that they had no instructions. 
These three gentlemen, however, carried it to Lord 
Dartmouth, who, after retaining it one day for peru- 
sal, during which a cabinet council was held, agreed 
to deliver it ; and in a short time he informed them, 
that his Majesty had been pleased to receive it " very 
graciously," and would lay it before both Houses of 
Parliament. This was accordingly done, but without 
any allusion to it in the King's speech, or any mes- 
sage calling the attention of Parliament to the subject. 
It was sent down with a mass of letters of intelli- 
gence, newspapers, and pamphlets, and laid upon the 
table undistinguished from the other papers with which 
it was accompanied. The agents requested to be 
heard at the bar of the House in support of the pe- 
tition, but were refused. When it came up for con- 
sideration, it was rejected by an overwhelming major- 
ity, after a heated debate, in which the ministerial 
members spoke contemptuously of the Americans and 
of their pretended grievances, and insisted on reduc- 
ing them to obedience at all events, and by force of 
arms if that were necessary. 

While the first Congress was sitting, Galloway, 
who was a member from Pennsylvania, proposed a 

VOL. I. 48 FF* 

378 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

plan of union between Great Britain and the colonies, 
which met with so little success, that there was al- 
most a unanimous voice for not permitting it to be 
entered in the journals. Piqued at this slight, and at 
the defeat of a scheme from which he had formed 
high expectations, Galloway caused his plan to be 
printed, in connexion with disrespectful observations 
on the proceedings of Congress. He sent a copy of 
it to Dr. Franklin, who, in his reply, without touch- 
ing upon its merits, gave his ideas of some prelimina- 
ry articles, which he said ought to be agreed to be- 
fore any plan of union could be established. These 
articles included a repeal of the Declaratory Act, and 
of all the acts of Parliament laying duties on the colo- 
nies, all acts altering the charter, constitution, or laws 
of any colony, all acts restraining manufactures, with 
a modification of the navigation acts, which should 
be reenacted by the legislatures of both countries. It 
was his opinion, however, that no benefit would re- 
sult to America by a closer union with Great Britain 
than already existed. 

For the year past, Dr. Franklin had foreseen, that, 
if the ministers persevered in their mad projects against 
the colonies, a rupture between the two countries and 
a civil war would soon follow; and he used all the 
means in his power to induce a change of measures. 
This was known to gentlemen of influence in the op- 
position, who were striving to effect the same end, 
and who accordingly sought his counsel and cooper- 
ation. Lord Chatham was among those, who con- 
demned the policy and acts of the administration ; and 
he was resolved to make a strenuous effort in Par- 
liament to avert the calamity, which he saw, as he 
thought, impending over the nation. In the month 
of August, 1774, while Dr. Franklin was on a visit 

;Et.68.] life of franklin. 379 

to Mr. Sargent, at his seat in Kent, he received an 
invitation from Lord Chatham to visit him at Hayes, 
his Lordship's residence, which was not far distant. 
Lord Stanhope called on Dr. Franklin the next day, 
and accompanied him to Hayes. 

The conversation turned on American affairs. Lord 
Chatham spoke feelingly of the late laws against Mas- 
sachusetts; censured them with severity, and said he 
had a great esteem for the people of that country, and 
"hoped they would continue firm, and unite in de- 
fending, by all practicable and legal means, their con- 
stitutional rights." Dr. Franklin said he was convinced 
they would do so, and then proceeded to explain the 
nature and grounds of their complaints, the unconsti- 
tutional encroachments of Parliament, and the injustice 
and impolicy of the measures, which the ministers 
were rashly enforcing, and which would inevitably 
alienate the affections of the colonists, and drive them 
to desperation and open resistance. 

His Lordship seemed pleased with his frankness, 
assented to some of his statements, and raised que- 
ries respecting others. He mentioned an opinion pre- 
vailing in England, that the Americans were aiming 
to set up an independent state. Dr. Franklin assured 
him, that he had at different times travelled from one 
end of the continent to the other, conversed with all 
descriptions of people, and had never heard a hint of 
this kind from any individual. This declaration refer- 
red to the past, and to the actual disposition towards 
the mother country before the late events, and not to 
he temper which had been excited by the novel ag- 
gressions of the British government ; for Dr. Franklin 
himself, at this very time, as we learn from his con- 
versation with Mr. Quincy, was looking forward to 
independence, because he was satisfied that the min- 

380 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

istry would not relax from their tyrannical measures, 
and that the people would not endure them. On this 
ground alone he expected independence, and not from 
any thing that had as yet been done or resolved by 
the colonists.* 

Lord Chatham was affable, professed to be much 
pleased with the visit, and politely told Dr. Franklin, 
that he should be glad to see him whenever his con- 
venience would permit. 

Some time after, when he was at a meeting of the 
Royal Society, Mr. Raper, one of the members, pro- 
posed to introduce him to a certain lady, who, he 
said, wished to play with him at chess. This lady 
was Mrs. Howe, a sister of Lord Howe. Being fond 
of chess, and having no reason to decline such an 
invitation, he accepted the challenge, not dreaming 
that any thing more was intended than a little recre- 
ation. He called on her with his friend, played a 
few games, and, finding her agreeable and intelligent, 
agreed to resume the amusement on another day. 

He went accordingly, and played as before. The 
chess-board being laid aside, Mrs. Howe began a con- 
versation, first on a mathematical problem, then on 
political affairs, and at last she said, "What is to be 
done with this dispute between Great Britain and the 
colonies ? I hope we are not to have a civil war." 
" They should kiss and be friends," said Franklin ; 
"what can they do better? Quarrelling can be of 
service to neither, but it is ruin to both." "I have 
often said," she replied, "that I wished government 

* The above declaration, respecting the time when the Americans 
first conceived the idea of independence, is confirmed by the testimo- 
ny of Washington, John Adams, Jay, Jefferson, Madison, and others 
who acted a conspicuous part in the Revolution. These all affirm, that, 
before the commencement of hostilities, they aimed only at a redress 
of grievances and a restoration to their former rights. — See Sparks's 
edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. II. p. 496. 

Mr. 68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 381 

would employ you to settle the dispute for them ; I 
am sure nobody could do it so well. Do you not 
think that the thing is practicable ? " " Undoubtedly, 
Madam," he rejoined, "if the parties are disposed to 
reconciliation ; for the two countries have really no 
clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a mat- 
ter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people 
might settle in half an hour. I thank you for the 
good opinion you are pleased to express of me ; but 
the ministers will never think of employing me in that 
good work ; they choose rather to abuse me." " Ay," 
said she, " they have behaved shamefully to you ; and, 
indeed, some of them are now ashamed of it them- 
selves." As this conversation was apparently inciden- 
tal, he drew no inferences from it, but assented again 
to the lady's request to renew their game of chess 
on a future occasion. 

In the mean time two of his friends, Dr. Fothergill 
and David Barclay, jointly expressed to him great 
concern at the present state of the colonial dispute, 
and urged him with much solicitude to make a new 
and formal attempt to bring about a reconciliation, 
saying that he understood the business better than 
anybody else, and could manage it more effectually, 
and that it seemed to be his duty to leave no expe- 
dient untried, which w T ould tend to promote an object 
of so great moment to both countries. At first he 
objected to any further interference, believing the min- 
istry were not in the least inclined to an accommoda- 
tion, but that they wished rather to irritate the colo- 
nists and push them to acts of resistance, that they 
might have a pretence for using force to reduce them 
to submission. 

Dr. Fothergill and Mr. Barclay were of a different 
opinion, and were convinced, that, whatever might be 

382 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1774. 

the designs of some of the ministers, others seriously 
desired a reconciliation, and would listen to any rea- 
sonable propositions for that end. They entreated 
him to think of the matter, and to sketch a plan, such 
as he should be willing to support, and as in his 
opinion would be acceptable to the colonies. With 
some reluctance he yielded to their solicitation, and 
promised to prepare a draft, and show it to them at 
their next meeting. • 

He drew up a paper, consisting of seventeen arti- 
cles, which he called Hints, but which embodied the 
elements of a compact. He consented that the tea, 
which had been destroyed in the harbour of Boston, 
should be paid for; but he required the tea act, and 
all the acts restraining manufactures, the laws against 
Massachusetts and the Quebec act, to be repealed, 
and all the acts for regulating trade to be reenact- 
ed by the colonial legislatures. He insisted, that all 
duties collected in the colonies should be paid into 
the colonial treasuries, and that the custom-house offi- 
cers should be appointed by the governors; that no 
requisitions should be made in time of peace, and that 
no troops should enter any colony without the con- 
sent of its legislature; that in time of war the re- 
quisitions should be in proportion to those in Great 
Britain; that the governors and judges should be ap- 
pointed during good behaviour, and receive their sal- 
aries from the Assemblies ; and that Parliament should 
claim no power over the internal legislation of the 
colonies. These were the principal points, though 
there were some others of minor importance. 

At the time appointed he met Dr. Fothergill and 
Mr. Barclay, produced his Hints, and explained and 
defended each article. They objected to some parts, 
and doubted as to others ; yet they thought it worth 

^t.68.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 383 

while to make the experiment, as a preliminary step 
towards a negotiation, and asked permission to take 
copies of his paper, intimating an intention to show 
it in the ministerial circles. Dr. Fothergill was on 
terms of intimacy with Lord Dartmouth and some of 
the other ministers; and Mr. Barclay wished it to be 
seen by Lord Hyde, with whom he was acquainted. 
Dr. Franklin, submitting to the discretion of his friends, 
did not object to this proposal, and two copies were 
transcribed in the handwriting of Mr. Barclay. 

It was now time to fulfil his engagement to Mrs. 
Howe. He called at her house, but had scarcely en- 
tered the room, when she said that her brother, Lord 
Howe, would be glad to make his acquaintance. 
He could only reply, that he should be proud of such 
an honor. "He is just by," said she; "will you give 
me leave to send for him 1 " " By all means, Mad- 
am," he answered, "if you think proper." She ac- 
cordingly despatched a message to her brother, who 
arrived in a few minutes. 

His Lordship began the conversation with some po- 
lite compliments, and said his particular motive for de- 
siring an interview at this time was the alarming state 
of American affairs, and that he hoped to obtain Dr. 
Franklin's sentiments on the best means of reconciling 
the differences, being persuaded that no other person 
could do so much towards healing the breach, which 
threatened the most mischievous consequences, unless 
some speedy remedy could be applied. A long dis- 
course ensued, in which Lord How T e requested him 
to put in writing such propositions, as he conceived 
would lead to a good understanding between the two 
countries, which they might consider at another inter- 
view. This he agreed to undertake. 

According to his promise, he had communicated to 

384 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

Lord Chatham the late American papers which he 
had received ; and he went a week afterwards to 
Hayes, where he was extremely gratified with the 
manner in which that great man spoke of the pro- 
ceedings of the Congress. "They had acted," he 
said, "with so much temper, moderation, and wisdom, 
that he thought it the most honorable assembly of 
statesmen since those of the ancient Greeks and Ro- 
mans in the most virtuous times." He professed a 
warm regard for the Americans, and hearty wishes 
for their prosperity, and added, that when Parliament 
assembled he should have something to offer, upon 
which he should previously want Dr. Franklin's sen- 

On his way home he passed the night with Lord 
Camden, at Chislehurst. This nobleman agreed en- 
tirely with Lord Chatham in his opinion of Congress, 
and of the transactions in America. 

He returned to town in time to meet Lord Howe 
according to appointment, but was obliged to apolo- 
gize for not being ready with his propositions. Lord 
Howe said, he could now assure him, that both Lord 
North and Lord Dartmouth were sincerely disposed 
to an accommodation. He then asked Dr. Franklin 
what he thought of a project for sending over a com- 
missioner empowered to inquire into the grievances of 
the Americans, and to agree with them upon some 
mode of reconciliation. Franklin seemed to approve 
the idea. Mrs. Howe was present. " I wish, brother," 
said she, "you were to be sent thither on such a 
service ; I should like that much better than General 
Howe's going to command the army there." " I think, 
Madam," replied Franklin, " they ought to provide for 
General Howe some more honorable employment." 
Lord Howe then drew out a paper, which proved to 

^Et. 69.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 385 

be a copy of the Hints, in David Barclay's handwrit- 
ing. He remarked, that these terms were so hard, as 
to afford little hope of their being obtained, and he 
begged Dr. Franklin to turn his thoughts to another 

To satisfy his Lordship, he consented to make a 
second trial ; but he confessed, that he did not think 
he should produce any thing more acceptable. He 
drew up a series of propositions, founded mainly on 
the petition of Congress to the King, and such other 
papers as Congress had published. He sent the prop- 
ositions to Lord Howe, and both these and the Hints 
were communicated to some of the ministers, to Lord 
Hyde, and to a few other persons of high political 

Soon afterwards he was informed by Lord Stan- 
hope, that Lord Chatham would offer a motion to 
the House of Lords the following day, and desired 
his attendance. The next morning, January 20th, he 
likewise received a message from Lord Chatham, tell- 
ing him, that if he would be in the lobby at two 
o'clock, he would introduce him. "I attended," says 
Dr. Franklin, "and met him there accordingly. On 
my mentioning to him what Lord Stanhope had writ- 
ten to me, he said, ' Certainly ; and I shall do it with 
the more pleasure, as I am sure your being present 
at this day's debate will be of more service to Amer- 
ica than mine ; ' and so taking me by the arm was 
leading me along the passage to the door that enters 
near the throne, when one of the door-keepers fol- 
lowed, and acquainted him, that, by the order, none 
were to be carried in at that door but the eldest 
sons or brothers of peers ; on which he limped back 
with me to the door near the bar, where were stand- 
ing a number of gentlemen, waiting for the peers who 

VOL. I. 49 GG 

386 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

were to introduce them, and some peers waiting for 
friends they expected to introduce ; among whom he 
delivered me to the door-keepers, saying aloud, 'This 
is Dr. Franklin, whom I would have admitted into 
the House;' when they readily opened the door for 
me accordingly. As it had not been publicly known, 
that there was any communication between his Lord- 
ship and me, this, I found, occasioned some specula- 
tion." Lord Chatham moved, that the troops should 
be withdrawn from Boston. This gave rise to a warm 
debate, in which the motion was ably and eloquent- 
ly sustained by the mover and Lord Camden, but it 
was lost by a large majority. 

In the course of his remarks Lord Chatham men- 
tioned, that this motion was introductory to a general 
plan for a reconciliation, which he proposed to lay 
before Parliament. This was the subject, in regard 
to which he had before intimated to Dr. Franklin that 
he should want his advice and assistance. A week 
after the debate on the motion, he spent a day with 
his Lordship, who showed him the outlines of nib 
plan, and asked his opinion and observations upon all 
its principal points. Lord Chatham next called at his 
lodgings in town, and passed nearly two hours with 
him on the same business. The draft of his plan was 
now completed, and he left a copy of it with Dr. 
Franklin, requesting him to consider it maturely, and 
suggest any alterations or additions that might occur 
to him. He made another visit to Hayes, where the 
plan was again discussed, and the work was finished. 

He did not approve the plan in all its parts, nor 
believe it would be acceptable to the colonies ; and 
he freely stated his objections. But it was necessary 
to conform in some degree to the prejudices prevail- 
ing in Parliament, or there would be no hope of gain- 

jEt.69.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 387 

ing the attention of that body to any propositions ; 
and Lord Chatham himself did not suppose, that, in 
any event, his plan would be adopted precisely as he 
should present it. His aim was to open the way to 
an accommodation, and amendments might be intro- 
duced in its progress through the House. Little else 
was to be expected, than that it might serve as the 
basis of a treaty. And in the mean time, before it 
passed, the Americans would have an opportunity of 
knowing what it was, and of making objections and 

This plan was submitted to the House of Lords, 
in the form of a bill, on the 1st of February. Lord 
Stanhope, at the request of Lord Chatham, accompa- 
nied Dr. Franklin to the House, and procured him 
admittance. The House was very full. Lord Chat- 
ham exerted all his powers of eloquence and argu- 
ment in support of his plan. It was vehemently as- 
sailed by the ministers and their adherents ; and was 
defended by the Dukes of Richmond and Manchester, 
Lord Shelburne, Lord Camden, Lord Temple, and 
others. The ministerial influence was so great, how- 
ever, that it was not even allowed to lie on the table 
for future consideration, but was rejected by a major- 
ity of two to one. 

The speech of Lord Sandwich was passionate and 
abusive. He could not believe, he said, that the bill 
proceeded from a British peer ; it was more likely the 
work of some American; and, turning towards Dr. 
Franklin, who was leaning on the bar, said "he fan- 
cied he had in his eye the person who drew it up, 
one of the bitterest and most mischievous enemies 
this country had ever known." In reply to this illib- 
eral insinuation, Lord Chatham "declared, that it was 
entirely his own ; a declaration he thought himself the 

388 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

more obliged to make, as many of their Lordships ap- 
peared to have so mean an opinion of it ; for, if it was 
so weak or so bad a thing, it was proper in him to 
take care that no other person should unjustly share 
in the censure it deserved. That it had been hereto- 
fore reckoned his vice, not to be apt to take advice; 
but he made no scruple to declare, that, if he were 
the first minister of this country, and had the care of 
settling this momentous business, he should not be 
ashamed of publicly calling to his assistance a person 
so perfectly acquainted with the whole of American 
affairs as the gentleman alluded to, and so injuriously 
reflected on ; one, he was pleased to say, whom all 
Europe held in high estimation for his knowledge and 
wisdom, and ranked with our Boyles and Newtons; 
who was an honor, not to the English nation only, 
but to human nature ! " 

After this proceeding, Dr. Franklin did not expect 
to hear any thing more of proposals for a negotiation ; 
but, a day or two after, he was again invited by Dr. 
Fothergill and Mr. Barclay to meet and consult with 
them on the subject of the Hints. It appears that 
conferences had been held about them ; and these gen- 
tlemen handed him a paper, which purported to come 
from high authority, and in which some of his articles 
were approved, and others rejected or modified. He 
read the paper and agreed to consider it. His opin- 
ion of its contents may be drawn from his remarks on 
this interview. 

" We had not at this time," he says, " a great deal 
of conversation upon these points; for I shortened it 
by observing, that, while the Parliament claimed and 
exercised a power of altering our constitutions at 
pleasure, there could be no agreement; for we were 
rendered unsafe in every privilege we had a right 

jEt. 69.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 389 

to, and were secure in nothing. And, it being hinted 
how necessary an agreement was for America, since 
it was so easy for Britain to burn all our seaport 
towns, I grew warm, said that the chief part of my 
little property consisted of houses in those towns ; that 
they might make bonfires of them whenever they 
pleased ; that the fear of losing them would never al- 
ter my resolution to resist to the last that claim of 
Parliament ; and that it behoved this country to take 
care what mischief it did us ; for that, sooner or later, 
it would certainly be obliged to make good all dam- 
ages with interest!" 

The negotiation continued thus informally for some 
time longer. Another paper was produced, which was 
understood to come from the ministry, and various 
efforts were made to induce Dr. Franklin to relax 
from some of his terms. But all the proposed modi- 
fications seemed to him of intrinsic importance, and 
such as ' his countrymen would not and ought not to 
accept. Several conferences followed, in some of which 
Lord Howe and Lord Hyde took a part. It turned 
out, that Lord Howe had conceived a strong desire 
to be sent over to America as a commissioner; and 
this explains the warm interest he took in the sub- 
ject, as well as the contrivance of his sister to bring 
him acquainted with Dr. Franklin, in a way that 
should not excite a suspicion of her motives. Gover- 
nor Pownall had formed a similar project for himself; 
and it is probable, that the ministry seriously thought 
of this step, if they could obtain such propositions 
from Dr. Franklin, as would afford a reasonable pros- 
pect of accomplishing their wishes ; it being sup- 
posed, that he would express the sentiments of the 
Americans on all the essential points of difference. 
When they ascertained the extent of his claims, and 

390 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

found him unyielding, the scheme was abandoned. 
And, indeed, before the negotiation was at an end, 
he became tired of it himself, believing it utterly fruit- 
less ; and he said, if any thing more was to be done, 
the ministers ought to be directly concerned in it, and 
there should be a full understanding of the disposi- 
tions and designs of both parties. 

Whatever may be thought of this negotiation as an 
affair of diplomacy, or of the aims of those connected 
with it on the British side, there can be but one 
opinion as to the manner in which it was conducted 
by Franklin. It was creditable to his patriotism and 
sagacity. He had been absent ten years from Ameri- 
ca, and could know the opinions and feelings of his 
countrymen only from the reports of their proceedings 
and published papers. He was beyond the reach of 
the enthusiasm naturally inspired by a union of num- 
bers in defending rights and resisting oppression; yet 
no American could have placed the demands of the 
colonies on a broader foundation, or supported them 
with a more ardent zeal, or insisted on them with a 
more determined resolution. 

These transactions detained him longer in England 
than he had expected. He was now ready for his 
departure, and he received a message from Dr. Foth- 
ergill for their mutual friends in Philadelphia. " Tell 
them," said he, "that, whatever specious pretences are 
offered, they are all hollow." Dr. Fothergill was as 
much disgusted, as disappointed, with the ministerial 
manoeuvres, which he had discovered in the course of 
the late negotiation. 

The day before Franklin left London, he wrote as 
follows to Arthur Lee. "I leave directions with Mrs. 
Stevenson to deliver to you all the Massachusetts pa- 
pers, when you please to call for them. I am sorry 

jEt.69.] life of franklin. 391 

that the hurry of preparing for my voyage, and the 
many hindrances I have met with, prevented my meet- 
ing with you and Mr. Bollan, and conversing a little 
more on our affairs, before my departure. I wish to 
both of you health and happiness, and shall be glad 
to hear from you by every opportunity. I shall let 
you know how I find things in America. I may pos- 
sibly return again in the autumn, but you will, if you 
think fit, continue henceforth the agent for Massa- 
chusetts, an office which I cannot again undertake." 
In a letter to a friend on the continent, he likewise 
mentions it as probable that he should return in the 
autumn. But he did not then foresee the memorable 
day at Lexington, which occurred a month afterwards, 
nor the new scene of action that awaited him on 
the other side of the Atlantic. He sailed from Eng- 
land on the 21st of March, 1775, and arrived at Phila- 
delphia on the 5th of May, employing himself during 
a long voyage in writing an account of his recent 
attempts to establish peace and harmony between the 
two countries ; but this paper was not published till 
after his death. 

He also made experiments with a thermometer, to 
ascertain the temperature of the ocean in different 
places, by which he found that the water in the Gulf 
Stream is warmer than the sea on each side of it. 
This result, which he considered "a valuable philo- 
sophical discovery," was confirmed by similar experi- 
ments repeated in two other voyages. His inference 
was, that the body of water, constituting the Gulf 
Stream, retains a portion of its warmth while it pass- 
es from the tropics to the northern seas, thus afford- 
ing seamen the means of knowing when they are in 
the Stream by the temperature of the water. By the 
same warmth, as he supposed, the air above is rare- 

392 LIFE OF FRANKLIIN. [1775. 

fied and rendered lighter; currents of wind flow in 
from opposite directions, and produce the tornadoes 
and water-spouts so common over the Gulf Stream 
in southern latitudes. Further north, the warm air 
mingles with the cold, and is condensed into the fogs, 
which prevail so remarkably on the Banks of New- 

jEt. 69.] LIFE OP FRANKLIN. 393 


Chosen a Member of Congress. — Proceedings of Congress. — Prepara- 
tions for Military Defence. — Petition to the King. — Franklin assists 
in preparing for the Defence of Pennsylvania, as a Member of the 
Committee of Safety. — Drafts 'a Plan of Confederation. — His Services 
in Congress. — Goes to the Camp at Cambridge on a Committee from 
Congress. — Chosen a Member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. — 
Writes Letters to Europe for the Committee of Secret Correspon- 
dence. — His Journey to Canada as a Commissioner from Congress. — 
Declaration of Independence. — ■ Anecdotes. — President of the Con- 
vention of Pennsylvania for forming a Constitution. — His Opinion of 
a Single Legislative Assembly. — Opposes the Practice of voting by 
States in Congress. — His Correspondence with Lord Howe, and In- 
terview with him on Staten Island. — Appointed a Commissioner to 
the Court of Versailles. — Lends Money to Congress. 

The next day after his arrival, Dr. Franklin was 
unanimously chosen by the Assembly of Pennsylvania 
a delegate to the second Continental Congress, which 
was to meet at Philadelphia on the 10th of May. 
At this time the whole country was thrown into a 
state of extreme agitation by the news of the conflict 
at Lexington and Concord, in which the British troops 
were the aggressors. The yeomanry of New Eng- 
land, as if moved by a simultaneous impulse, seized 
their arms, and hastened to the scene of action. The 
indignation of the people w T as everywhere roused to 
the highest pitch, and the cry of war resounded from 
one end of the continent to the other. A few days 
after he landed, Dr. Franklin wrote as follows to Dr. 

" You will have heard, before this reaches you, of a 
march stolen by the regulars into the country by night, 
and of their expedition back again. They retreated 
twenty miles in six hours. The governor had called 
the Assembly to propose Lord North's pacific plan, 

vol. i. 50 

394 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

but, before the time of their meeting, began cutting 
of throats. You know it was said he carried the 
sword in one hand, and the olive branch in the other ; 
and it seems he chose to give them a taste of the 
sword, first. He is doubling his fortifications at Bos- 
ton, and hopes to secure his troops till succour arrives. 
The place indeed is naturally so defensible, that I 
think them in no danger. All America is exasperated 
by his conduct, and more firmly united than ever. 
The breach between the two countries is grown wider, 
and in danger of becoming irreparable." 

When the second Congress assembled, the relations 
between the colonies and Great Britain had assumed 
a new character. The blood of American freemen 
had been shed on their own soil by a wanton exer- 
cise of military power, and they were regarded as 
having fallen martyrs in the cause of liberty. This 
rash act dissolved the charm, which had hitherto 
bound the affections of many a conscientious Ameri- 
can to the British crown, under the long revered 
name of loyalty. It was evident to every reflecting 
man, that the hour of trial had come, that a degrad- 
ing submission, or a triumph of strength, in a hard 
and unequal struggle, was the only alternative. A 
large majority of the nation and of Congress were 
ready to meet the contest by prompt and decided 
measures of resistance, convinced that any further at- 
tempts for a reconciliation would be utterly unavailing. 
Among the foremost of this number was Franklin. 
Yet there were some, whose fears ran before their 
hopes; and others, whose interests outweighed their 
patriotism. Many of the timid were good patriots, but 
they dreaded the gigantic power of England, which 
they believed to be irresistible. 

After an animated debate, which continued several 

^t.69.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 395 

days, it was declared that hostilities had commenced, 
on the part of Great Britain, with the design of en- 
forcing " the unconstitutional and oppressive acts of 
Parliament " ; and it was then resolved, with great 
unanimity, that the colonies should be immediately put 
in a state of defence. This was all, that the most 
ardent friends of liberty desired, since it enabled them 
to organize an army and make preparations for war. 
Having gained this point, they were the more ready 
to yield another, for the sake of harmony, to the 
moderate party, at the head of which was John Dick- 
inson. It was urged by this party, that they never 
had anticipated resistance by force, but had always 
confided so much in the justice of the British gov- 
ernment, as to believe, that, when they fairly under- 
stood the temper and equitable claims of the colonists, 
they would come to a reasonable compromise. An- 
other opportunity, it was said, ought to be offered, 
and to this end they were strenuous for sending a 
petition to the King. 

The party in favor of energetic action represented 
the inconsistency and futility of this step. To take up 
arms and then petition was an absurdity. It could 
do little harm, however, since it would not retard the 
military operations ; and, as to the petition itself, there 
was not the least likelihood that his Majesty would 
pay any more attention to it, than he had paid to the 
one sent to him the year before, which he treated with 
contempt. The dignity of Congress would suffer a 
little, to be sure, by again resorting to a petition, after 
being thus slighted ; yet this was a small sacrifice to 
make, if it would produce union and concert in affairs 
of greater moment. Besides, it was supposed that 
there were tender consciences in the country, which 
would be better reconciled to the strong measures of 

396 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

Congress, if accompanied by this appeal, as from loyal 

Franklin was on the committee for reporting a draft, 
which would seem to imply that he did not resist the 
proposal; but how far he actually approved it, is un- 
certain. In writing to a friend he said ; " It has been 
with difficulty, that we have carried another humble 
petition to the crown, to give Great Britain one more 
chance, one opportunity more, of recovering the friend- 
ship of the colonies ; which, however, I think she has 
not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she 
has lost them for ever." Mr. Jay was likewise a 
member of the committee, and was in favor of the 
petition. But its most zealous advocate was John 
Dickinson, by whom it was drafted. It has been 
said, indeed, that this token of humility was yielded 
mainly to gratify his wishes. The uprightness of his 
character, his singleness of heart, and the great ser- 
vices he had rendered to his country by his talents 
and his pen, claimed for him especial consideration. 
The tone and language of the petition were suffi- 
ciently submissive, and it stands in remarkable con- 
trast, in the Journals, with other papers, and the re- 
solves for warlike preparations. Mr. Jefferson tells us, 
that Mr. Dickinson was so much pleased when it was 
adopted by a vote of the House, that he could not 
forbear to express his satisfaction by saying ; " There 
is but one word, Mr. President, in the paper, which 
I disapprove, and that word is Congress" Whereup- 
on Mr. Harrison of Virginia rose and said ; " There is 
but one word in the paper, Mr. President, which I 
approve, and that word is Congress" 

In addition to his duties in Congress, Dr. Franklin 
had a very laborious service to perform as chairman 
of the Committee of Safety, appointed by the Assem- 

jEt.69.] life of franklin. 397 

bly of Pennsylvania. This committee consisted of 
twenty-five members. They were authorized to call 
the militia into actual service, whenever they should 
judge it necessary, to pay and furnish them with sup- 
plies, and to provide for the defence of the province. 
Bills of credit, to the amount of thirty-five thousand 
pounds, were issued and put into their hands, to pay 
the expenses incurred for these objects. This was 
a highly responsible and important trust. Franklin 
labored in it incessantly during eight months, till he 
was called away upon another service. "My time," 
says he, " was never more fully employed ; in the 
morning at six, I am at the Committee of Safety, 
which committee holds till near nine, when I am at 
Congress, and that sits till after four in the afternoon. 
Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimi- 
ty." The attention of the committee was especially di- 
rected to the protection of the city, by sinking chevaux- 
de-frise. in the Delaware, constructing and manning 
armed boats, and erecting fortifications. These works 
were executed with surprising despatch, and so ef- 
fectually, that, when the enemy's fleet entered the 
river, after the battle of the Brandywine, it was re- 
tarded by them nearly two months. 

While thus actively engaged, Dr. Franklin drew up 
and presented to Congress, on the 21st of July, a 
plan of confederation. It was not acted upon at that 
time, but it served as a basis for a more extended 
plan, when Congress were better prepared to consid- 
er the subject. In some of its articles it differed es- 
sentially from the one that was finally adopted, and 
approached more nearly to the present constitution. 
Taxes for national purposes were to be levied, and 
members of Congress were to be chosen, in propor- 
tion to the number of male inhabitants between the 


398 LIFE OP FRANKLIN. [1775. 

ages of sixteen and sixty; and each member was to 
have one vote in Congress. Taken in all its parts, 
this plan was little else than a virtual declaration of 
independence. It was to be perpetual, unless the 
British government should agree to such terms of rec- 
onciliation, as had been claimed by the colonies.* 

The postoffice establishment, which had existed un- 
der the British government, was broken up by the 
disorders of the times. Congress made provision for 
a new one, and appointed Dr. Franklin postmaster- 
general, with a salary of one thousand dollars a year. 
The entire management of the business was put un- 
der his control, with power to establish such post 
routes, and appoint as many deputies, as he should 
think proper. 

For several months the proceedings of Congress 
turned mostly on military affairs. An army was to be 
raised, organized, and provided for. The wisdom, ex- 
perience, and mental resources of every member were 
in as much demand, as diligence, resolution, zeal, and 
public spirit. We find Franklin, notwithstanding his 
advanced age, taking a part in almost every important 
measure with all the ardor and activity of youth. He 
was placed at the head of the Commissioners for In- 
dian affairs in the middle department; and few of the 
younger members served on so many committees re- 
quiring energy, industry, and close application. Among 
these were the committees for devising ways and 
means to protect the commerce of the colonies, for 

* This plan of confederation was published, and it was soon after 
reprinted in England, as an appendix to the seventh edition of a popu- 
lar pamphlet, entitled "The Rights of Great Britain asserted against 
the Claims of America." The author speaks of it as an additional 
proof of the " real designs of the Americans." He had been industri- 
ous in searching for such proofs, which constitute the principal burden 
of his pamphlet. 


reporting on the state of trade in America and on 
Lord North's motion in Parliament, for employing 
packet ships and disposing of captured vessels, for 
establishing a war-office, for drawing up a plan of trea- 
ties to be proposed to foreign powers, for preparing 
the device of a national seal, and many others. 

A Secret Committee was appointed, of which he 
was a member. At first, it was the province of this 
committee to import ammunition, cannon, and mus- 
kets ; but its powers and duties were enlarged, so as 
to include the procuring of all kinds of military sup- 
plies, and the distributing of them to the troops, the 
Continental armed vessels, and privateers, and also the 
manufacturing of saltpetre and gunpowder. The coun- 
try was alarmingly deficient in all these articles; and 
it was necessary to procure them from abroad by 
contracts with foreign merchants, and to have them 
shipped as secretly as possible, that they might not 
be intercepted and captured by the enemy. Remit- 
tances were made in tobacco and other produce, ei- 
ther directly or through such channels as would ren- 
der them available for the payments. 

As soon as Congress had determined to raise an 
army, and had appointed a commander-in-chief and 
the other principal officers, they applied themselves to 
the business of finance, and emitted two millions of 
dollars in bills of credit. This was the beginning of 
the Continental paper-money system. Dr. Franklin 
entered deeply into the subject, but he did not al- 
together approve the principle upon which the bills 
were emitted. He proposed that they should bear in- 
terest, but this was rejected. After the first emission, 
he recommended that the bills already in circulation 
should be borrowed on interest, instead of issuing a 
larger quantity. This plan was not followed at the 

400 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1775. 

time, but, when the bills began to sink in value, it was 
resorted to, and he then proposed to pay the interest 
in hard dollars, which would be likely to fix the val- 
ue of the principal. This was deemed impracticable, 
although Congress came into the proposal afterwards; 
but not till it was too late to check the rapid prog- 
ress of depreciation. 

The army at Cambridge, employed in besieging the 
British forces in Boston, was adopted by Congress as 
a Continental army before General Washington took 
the command. This army would cease to exist at 
the end of the year, by the expiration of the periods 
for which the soldiers were enlisted. Thus the ardu- 
ous task of organizing and recruiting a new army de- 
volved on the Commander-in-chief. To assist him in 
this work, Congress deputed three of their body, Dr. 
Franklin, Thomas Lynch, and Benjamin Harrison, to 
proceed to the camp, and confer with him on the 
most efficient mode of continuing and supporting a 
Continental army. They met at head -quarters, on the 
18th of October, where they were joined by dele- 
gates from each of the New England governments. 
The conference lasted several days, and such a sys- 
tem was matured, as was satisfactory to General Wash- 
ington, and as proved effectual in attaining the object.* 

* See an account of these proceedings in Sparks's edition of Wash- 
ington's Writings, Vol. III. p. 133. 

It was probably about this time, that Dr. Franklin drew up the fol- 
lowing resolves, which have been found in his handwriting. It is un- 
certain whether they were adopted in Congress, but they were publish- 
ed, except the last paragraph, with considerable modifications, and were 
reprinted in England. 

" Resolved, that, from and after the 20th of July, 1776, being one 
full year after the day appointed by a late act of the Parliament of 
Great Britain for restraining the trade of the confederate colonies, 
all the custom-houses in the said colonies shall be shut up, and all 
the officers of the same be discharged from the exercise of their sev- 

Mt. 69.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 401 

Some time before, Dr. Franklin had received the 
sum of one hundred pounds sterling, sent to him by 
benevolent persons in England, as a donation for the 
relief of those, who had been wounded in the en- 
counters with the British troops on the day of their 
march to Lexington and Concord, and of the widows 
and children of such as had been slain. While he 
was in the camp at Cambridge, he paid this money 
over to a committee of the Massachusetts Assembly. 

During his absence, the Assembly of Pennsylvania 
met, and by the returns of the election it appeared 
that he had been chosen a representative for the city 
of Philadelphia. He was now a member of three 
public bodies, which convened daily for business, that 
is, Congress, the Assembly, and the Committee of 
Safety; but he usually attended in Congress when- 
ever the times of meeting interfered with each other. 

eral functions ; and all the ports of the said colonies are hereby declared 
to be thenceforth open to the ships of every State in Europe, that will 
admit our commerce and protect it, who may bring in and expose to 
sale, free of all duties, their respective produce and manufactures, and 
every kind of merchandise, excepting- teas and the merchandise of 
Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West India Islands. 

" Resolved, that we will, to the utmost of our power, maintain and 
support the freedom of commerce for two years certain, after its com- 
mencement, and as much longer as the late acts of Parliament for re- 
straining the commerce and fishery, and altering the laws and charters 
of any of the colonies, shall continue unrepealed. 

" And whereas, whenever kings, instead of protecting the lives and 
properties of their subjects, as is their bounden duty, do endeavour to 
perpetrate the destruction of either, they thereby cease to be kings, 
become tyrants, and dissolve all ties of allegiance between themselves 
and their people ; we hereby further solemnly declare, that, whenever it 
shall appear clearly to us, that the King's troops and ships now in 
America, or hereafter to be brought there, do, by his Majesty's orders, 
destroy any town or the inhabitants of any town or place in America, 
or that the savages have been by the same orders hired to assassinate 
our poor out-settlers and their families, we will from that time renounce 
all allegiance to Great Britain, so long as that kingdom shall submit to 
him, or any of his descendants, as its sovereign." 

VOL. I. 51 HH* 

402 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

As soon as Congress had put their military affairs 
in train, they began to think of foreign alliances. On 
the 29th of November, they appointed a Committee of 
Secret Correspondence, for the purpose of establishing 
and keeping up an intercourse with the friends of the 
American cause in England, Ireland, and other parts 
of Europe. Dr. Franklin's long residence abroad, his 
extensive acquaintance with men of character there, 
and his knowledge of their political sentiments, natu- 
rally qualified him for acting a principal part in this 
committee. He wrote letters to some of his friends 
in Europe, on whose discretion and fidelity he could 
rely, requesting them to watch the current of events, 
and the tendency of public opinion, in regard to the 
American controversy; to ascertain, as far as it could 
be done, the designs of men in power, and to com- 
municate intelligence on these points for the use of 
Congress. To Mr. Dumas, at the Hague, whom he 
had known in Holland, he sent particular instructions, 
investing him, in the name of the committee, with 
certain powers as a political agent, by which he was 
authorized and desired to seek opportunities for dis- 
covering, through the ambassadors at that place, the 
disposition of the European courts and the proba- 
bility of their rendering assistance to the Americans. 
Mr. Dumas accepted this commission and executed it 
faithfully. He continued in the service of the United 
States throughout the Revolution, and for some years 

From the beginning of the contest, many efforts 
had been made to induce the Canadians to join the 
other colonies ; and it was proposed to them, that they 
should send delegates to Congress. A hope of this 
union was entertained for a time, but it was finally dis- 
appointed. The hostile attitude, in which the Canadi- 

^Et. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 403 

ans and English colonists had been placed towards 
each other on various occasions, in addition to the in- 
herited national antipathy on both sides, had produced 
an alienation, which could not easily be softened in- 
to a fraternal fellowship; and the obstacles were mul- 
tiplied by religious animosities. In the first year of the 
war, while the Americans had an army in Canada, there 
was some show of a party in their favor; but this 
party was by no means an index of the popular will 
or feeling, and it soon dwindled away and disappeared. 

The military successes, which had put nearly the 
whole of Canada into the possession of the Americans, 
terminated with the fall of Montgomery under the walls 
of Quebec. More troops were sent forward in the 
heart of winter; but, when the spring opened, rein- 
forcements arrived from England, threatening disas- 
ter and defeat to the American army. At this junc- 
ture Congress appointed commissioners to go to Can- 
ada, with full powers to regulate the operations of the 
army, and especially to assist the Canadians in form- 
ing a civil government, and to pledge all the support 
and protection that could be rendered by the united 
colonies, Dr. Franklin, Samuel Chase, and Charles 
Carroll, were selected for this mission. Mr. John Car- 
roll, a Catholic clergyman, afterwards Archbishop of 
Baltimore, was invited to accompany them. He had 
been educated in France, and it was supposed that 
this circumstance, added to his religious profession and 
character, would enable him to exercise a salutary in- 
fluence with the priests in Canada, who were known 
to control the people. Among other things a printing- 
press was to be established, and Mesplet, a French 
printer, was engaged to undertake this business, with 
a promise that his expenses should be paid. 

The commissioners left Philadelphia about the 20th 

404 LJFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

of March, 1776, but they did not reach Montreal till 
near the end of April. The badness of the roads at 
that season of the year, and the obstruction to navi- 
gation in Lake Champlain, occasioned by the broken 
ice, retarded their progress, and made their journey 
tedious and toilsome. And, after all, the commission 
produced very little effect. The American army had 
already begun its retreat from Quebec, pursued by an 
enemy superior in numbers, well disciplined, and am- 
ply supplied. In this state of affairs it was not to be 
expected, that the Canadians would venture upon the 
hazardous experiment of setting up a new govern- 
ment, and joining the colonies, even if they had been 
previously inclined to take such a step. But, in real- 
ity, a few individuals excepted, they never had been 
thus inclined. Intelligence, a knowledge of their rights, 
love of freedom, liberal sentiments, and a spirit of en- 
terprise, were elements requisite for a political change, 
which they did not possess. 

Dr. Franklin's health was much impaired by the 
hardships of the journey. He had been exposed to 
the inclemency of the weather, and in some parts of 
the route he was obliged to lodge in the woods. He 
stayed a fortnight at Montreal, and then, in company 
with Mr. John Carroll, he set out on his way home- 
ward, leaving the other commissioners behind, who 
remained in Canada till near the time it was evacuat- 
ed by the American troops. With some difficulty he 
proceeded to Albany* From that place to New York 
he was conveyed in a private carriage, with which he 
had been accommodated by the kindness of General 
Schuyler. He arrived at Philadelphia early in June. 
The most agreeable incident during this tour was a 
visit to his old friend, Dr. John Bard, with whom he 
had been long and intimately acquainted in Philadel- 

jEt.70.] life of franklin. 405 

phia, but who had removed some years before to New 
York, and had lately given up his business, and 
sought retirement at his beautiful seat on the banks 
of the Hudson at Hyde Park; a man distinguished 
for skill in his profession, his respectable character, 
and all the estimable qualities, which adorn private 

Before he left home, Dr. Franklin had withdrawn 
from the Assembly and Committee of Safety, not 
knowing how long he should be absent, and deeming 
it improper to hold public stations the duties of which 
he could not discharge. In his letter of resignation 
he said ; "I am extremely sensible of the honor done 
me by my fellow citizens, in choosing me their rep- 
resentative in Assembly, and of that lately conferred 
on me by the House, in appointing me one of the 
Committee of Safety for this province, and a delegate 
in Congress.* It would be a happiness to me, if I 
could serve the public duly in all those stations ; but, 
aged as I now am, I feel myself unequal to so much 
business, and on that account think it my duty to de- 
cline a part of it. I hope, therefore, that the House 
will be so good as to accept my excuse for not at- 
tending as a member of the present Assembly, and, 
if they think fit, give orders for the election of an- 
other in my place, that the city may be more com- 
pletely represented. I request, also, that the House 
would be pleased to dispense with my further attend- 
ance as one of the Committee of Safety." On his 
return, therefore, he was at liberty to give his undi- 
vided attention to the national counsels in Congress. 
He was chosen a member of one of the committees, 
which assembled in June from the several counties of 

* The allusion here is to his second appointment to these two offices. 

406 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

Pennsylvania, for the purpose of deliberating on the 
mode of summoning a convention to form a new con- 
stitution; but the conference was short, and, if he at- 
tended at all, he took little part in the proceedings. 

A . subject of the greatest importance was now 
brought before Congress. For some months past, there 
had been much discussion in the newspapers, in pam- 
phlets, and at public meetings, as well as in private 
circles, about independence. It was evident, that a 
large majority of the nation was prepared for that meas- 
ure. At length the legislature of Virginia instruct- 
ed their delegates to propose it in Congress. This 
w T as done by Richard Henry Lee ; and a debate ensued, 
which elicited the opinions of the prominent mem- 
bers. All agreed, that, sooner or later, this ground must 
be taken; but a few believed that the time had not 
yet come. Among the doubters was the virtuous, the 
patriotic, the able, but irresolute John Dickinson. His 
objections, and those of his party, were met by the" 
fervid zeal and powerful arguments of John Adams, 
the persuasive eloquence of Lee, and the concurring 
voice of many others. On this side was Franklin, 
whose sentiments have been sufficiently indicated in 
the preceding pages. A committee of five was chosen 
to prepare a Declaration, consisting of Jefferson, John 
Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston. The his- 
tory of this transaction is too well known to need a 
repetition of it in this place. The Declaration, drafted 
by Jefferson, was reported as it came from his pen, 
except a few verbal alterations suggested by Adams 
and Franklin. It was debated three days, and passed 
on the 4th of July, when the United States were 
declared to be, and became in fact, an independent 

Mr. Jefferson relates a characteristic anecdote of 

Mt. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 407 

Franklin, connected with this subject. Being annoyed 
at the alterations made in his draft, while it was under 
discussion, and at the censures freely bestowed upon 
parts of it, he began to fear it would be dissected 
and mangled till a skeleton only would remain. "I 
was sitting," he observes, "by Dr. Franklin, who per- 
ceived that I was not insensible to these mutilations. 
'I have made it a rule,' said he, 'whenever in my 
power, to avoid becoming the draftsman of papers to 
be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson from 
an incident, which I will relate to you. When I was 
a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an ap- 
prentice hatter, having served out his time, was about 
to open shop for himself. His first concern was 'to 
have a handsome sign-board, with a proper inscription. 
He composed it in these words, John Thompson, Hat- 
ter, makes and sells Hats for ready Money, with a 
figure of a hat subjoined. But he thought he would 
submit it to his friends for their amendments. The 
first he showed it to, thought the word hatter tautol- 
ogous, because followed by the words makes hats, 
which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out. 
The next observed, that the word makes might as 
well be omitted, because his customers would not care 
who made the hats ; if good and to their mind, they 
would buy, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. 
A third said he thought the words for ready money 
were useless, as it was not the custom of the place 
to sell on credit. Every one, who purchased, expect- 
ed to pay. They were parted with ; and the inscrip- 
tion now stood, "John Thompson sells hats." " Sells 
hats ? " says his next friend ; " why, nobody will ex- 
pect you to give them away. What then is the use 
of that word ? " It was stricken out, and hats follow- 
ed, the rather, as there was one painted on the board. 

408 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

So his inscription was reduced ultimately to John 
Thompson, with the figure of a hat subjoined. ' " * 

There is also another anecdote related of Franklin, 
respecting an incident which took place when the 
members were about to sign the Declaration. "We 
must be unanimous," said Hancock ; " there must be 
no pulling different ways ; we must all hang together." 
"Yes," replied Franklin, "we must, indeed, all hang 
together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separ- 

Nearly two months before the declaration of inde- 
pendence, Congress had recommended that new sys- 
tems of government should be framed and adopted 
by the representatives of the people, in the colonies 
where a change was required by the exigencies of 
their affairs. In conformity with this recommendation, 
delegates from the counties of Pennsylvania met in 
convention at Philadelphia, about the middle of July, 
to form a constitution. Dr. Franklin was chosen pres- 
ident. The convention sat more than two months, 
but the President was occasionally absent in Congress. 
The part he actually took in framing the constitution 
is not known, but it has generally been supposed, 
that its principles were approved by him. This opin- 
ion is in some degree confirmed by his having defend- 
ed it late in life, when a change was contemplated. 
Rotation of office was one of its provisions; and the 
right of suffrage, the freedom of the press, and re- 
ligious toleration were secured on the most liberal 

He is reported to have been the author of the most 
remarkable feature in this constitution, that is, a sin- 

* See a letter from Mr. Jefferson in the first number of Walsh's 
National Gazette. 

Mt. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 409 

gle legislative Assembly, instead of two branches, which 
other statesmen have considered preferable, and which 
have since been adopted in all the States of the Union, 
as well as in other countries where the experiment 
of popular forms has been tried. There is no doubt 
that this was a favorite theory with him, because he 
explained and gave his reasons for it on another 
occasion. The perpetual conflict between the two 
branches under the proprietary government of Penn- 
sylvania, in which the best laws, after having been 
passed by the representatives of the people, were con- 
stantly defeated by the veto of the Governor and 
Council, seems to have produced a strong impression 
on his mind. He also referred to the British Parlia- 
ment as a proof, that the voice of the people, ex- 
pressed by their representatives, is often silenced by 
an order of men in the legislature, who have interests 
to serve distinct from those of the body of the nation. 
In his opinion, the collected wisdom of the law-makers 
could be turned to a better account by their meeting 
in one assembly, where they could profit by each 
other's intelligence and counsels. He disapproved, also, 
of the distinctions of rank incident to two assemblies, 
one being called the Upper and the other the Lower 
House, as having an aristocratical tendency, unfavora- 
ble to the liberty and equality, which are the essence 
of republican institutions. 

The point is said to have been carried in the con- 
vention by a brief speech from the President, who 
compared a legislature with two branches to a loaded 
wagon with a team at each end, pulling in opposite 
directions. At another time, in referring to the same 
subject, he illustrated it by what he called the fable 
of the snake with two heads and one body. "She 
was going to a brook to drink, and in her way was 

vol. i. 52 ii 

410 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

to pass through a hedge, a twig of which opposed 
her direct course ; one head chose to go on the right 
side of the twig, the other on the left; so that time 
was spent in the contest, and, before the decision was 
completed, the poor snake died with thirst." 

This theory of a single assembly has been combat- 
ed by able writers. Mr. Adams has encountered it 
with great force in his "Defence of the American 
Constitutions," and appears to have exhausted the sub- 
ject, as far as it could he done by argument and his- 
torical proofs. It found advocates in France, and was 
extolled by such men as Turgot, Condorcet, and La 
Rochefoucauld. These philosophers saw in it the per- 
fection of simplicity, by which the machine of govern- 
ment was divested of the numerous clogs and coun- 
terpoises, which had hitherto obstructed its free and 
natural movements. "Franklin," says La Rochefou- 
cauld, " was the first who dared to put this idea in 
practice. The respect, which the Pennsylvanians en- 
tertained for him, induced them to adopt it ; but the 
other States were terrified at it, and even the consti- 
tution of Pennsylvania has since been altered. In 
Europe this opinion has been more successful." This 
was said, after the National Assembly of France had 
adopted the constitution, in which the idea was again 
put in practice, as much by his influence as by that 
of any other individual. It speedily crumbled and fell, 
involving in its ruins, among others, the amiable La 
Rochefoucauld himself, the friend of liberty and the 
friend of man. The experiment of a single assembly 
in France was not such as to encourage imitation, and 
in America even the theory has been exploded. 

By a rule of the first Congress, which was contin- 
ued afterwards till the constitution of the United States 
went into operation, each Colony or State had a sin- 

jEt.70.] life of franklin. 411 

gle vote. When the delegates assembled for the first 
time, it was found that the colonies were very un- 
equally represented, and, if a vote had been allowed 
to each member, an undue preponderance would have 
been given to the colonies which sent the largest 
numbers ; for it had not been attempted at the elec- 
tions to regulate the number of delegates by the rela- 
tive importance of a colony, either in regard to the 
amount of its population, its extent, or wealth. Nor 
was it possible at that time for Congress to fix any 
such proportion. From the necessity of the case, there- 
fore, it was agreed, that each colony should have one 
vote. When the delegates from any colony were not 
unanimous, the vote was decided by a majority of 
those delegates ; if they were equally divided, the vote 
was lost. 

A few days after the declaration of independence, 
a plan of confederation was reported to Congress, and 
thjs provision of a single vote for each State constitut- 
ed one of its articles. Franklin opposed it strenuous- 
ly in the debates, as unjust and preposterous, since it 
gave to the smallest State the same power as to the 
largest. He said, that, if the practice had heretofore 
been necessary, it was no longer so, because it was 
easy to ascertain the comparative importance of the 
States, and to adjust the representation according to 
the number of inhabitants, and the degree of strength 
afforded by them respectively to the united body ; and 
that each delegate ought to have a vote in Congress. 
Moreover, this method of voting by States had a mis- 
chievous effect in another point of view. The dele- 
gates acted as representatives of States, and not of 
the people, and were naturally biased by local partiali- 
ties and a tenacious adherence to State rights, which 
it was extremely desirable to keep out of sight at this 

412 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

time of common peril and calamity, and even for ever, 
if it was intended to strengthen and perpetuate the 

So lively an interest did he take in this subject, 
and so strongly was he convinced that the system of 
representation must be equitably balanced, before any 
hope of a lasting union could be entertained, that, 
while the convention of Pennsylvania was sitting, he 
drew up a Protest, containing the principal arguments 
against the plan of voting by States, which was de- 
signed to be presented by the convention to Congress, 
as affording the reasons why Pennsylvania could not 
enter into the confederation, if this article were retain- 
ed. He was dissuaded from endeavouring to carry it 
through, however, on account of the critical situation 
of the country, at a time when harmony between the 
parts was essential to the safety of the whole. The 
evil was left to encumber and obstruct the operations 
of government, and impede the prosperity of the na- 
tion, till it was remedied by the Federal Constitution. 

From the King's speech at the opening of Parlia- 
ment it appeared, that he contemplated sending out 
commissioners to America, with power to grant par- 
don to such persons as they should think fit, and to 
receive the submission of such as should be disposed 
to return to their allegiance. In the early part of the 
session, Lord North brought forward his Prohibitory 
Bill, interdicting all trade and intercourse with the 
colonies. By an awkward association, he incorporated 
into this bill a provision for appointing commissioners 
to effect the object mentioned in the King's speech. 

In the spring of 1776, the main body of the Amer- 
ican army under General Washington was stationed 
at New York. General Howe arrived there with his 
army from Halifax in June, and he was soon after 

Mt. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 413 

joined by his brother, Lord Howe, at the head of a 
fleet with troops from Europe. The two brothers had 
been appointed commissioners. Lord Howe immedi- 
ately sent on shore a despatch, containing a circular 
letter to the colonial governors, and a "Declaration," 
stating the nature of his mission and his powers, and 
requesting that the declaration should be published. 
The commissioners were not instructed to negotiate 
with any particular public body. Pardon was of- 
fered to all, who should be penitent and submissive; 
to provinces, towns, assemblies, and individuals. This 
despatch was conveyed to General Washington, by 
whom it was forwarded to Congress. It occasioned 
but little debate. The letter and declaration were di- 
rected to be published, "that the few," as expressed 
in the resolve, " who still remain suspended by a 
hope, founded either in the justice or moderation of 
their late King, may now at length be convinced, 
that the valor alone of their country is to save its 

Lord Howe likewise wrote a private and friendly 
letter to Dr. Franklin, evincing respect for his charac- 
ter, and an earnest desire that all the differences be- 
tween the two countries might be accommodated in 
the way now proposed. It was answered by Dr. 
Franklin in a spirit not less friendly and respectful; 
but, in regard to the public communications, he said, 
he was sorry to find them of such a nature, since 
"it must give his Lordship pain to be sent so far on 
so hopeless a business." After some other remarks, 
touching the conduct and designs of the ministry, he 
added ; 

"Long did I endeavour, with unfeigned and un- 
wearied zeal, to preserve from breaking that fine and 
noble China vase, the British empire ; for I knew, that, 

414 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

being once broken, the separate parts could not retain 
even their share of the strength or value that existed 
in the whole, and that a perfect reunion of those parts 
could scarce ever be hoped for. Your Lordship may 
possibly remember the tears of joy that wet my cheek, 
when, at your good sister's in London, you once gave 
me expectations that a reconciliation might soon take 
place. I had the misfortune to find those expectations 
disappointed, and to be treated as the cause of the 
mischief I was laboring to prevent. My consolation 
under that groundless and malevolent treatment was, 
that I retained the friendship of many wise and good 
men in that country, and, among the rest, some share 
in the regard of Lord Howe." 

The door to a negotiation being closed, the battle 
of Long Island was fought, in which General Sullivan 
was taken prisoner. He was conveyed on board Lord 
Howe's ship, and discharged on parole. Lord Howe 
intrusted to him a verbal message for Congress, the 
purport of which was, that he should be glad to con- 
fer with some of the members in their private capaci- 
ty, and would himself meet them in that capacity at 
such time and place as they might appoint. Congress 
accordingly deputed three of their number, Dr. Frank- 
lin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge, to go and 
learn what propositions he had to offer. The inter- 
view took place, September 11th, at a house within 
the British lines on Staten Island, opposite to Amboy, 
where they were politely received and entertained. 

His Lordship began the conversation by informing 
them, that he could not treat with them as a commit- 
tee of Congress, but that his powers authorized him 
to confer and consult with any private gentlemen in 
the colonies on the means of reconciling the differ- 
ences and restoring peace. The committee replied, 

Mr. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 415 

that it was their business to hear what he had to 
propose; that he might look upon them in what light 
he chose; that they were, nevertheless, members of 
Congress, and, being appointed by that body, they 
must consider themselves in that character. After the 
conference was ended, the committee passed over to 
Amboy in Lord Howe's boat, went back to Congress, 
and reported, that his Lordship had made no explicit 
proposition for peace, and that, as far as they could 
discover, his powers did not enable him to do any 
thing more, than to grant pardon upon submission. 
This was the last attempt of the commissioners to 
effect what Mr. Burke called in Parliament an " arm- 
ed negotiation " ; and it would be allowing too little 
credit to the understanding of the ministers themselves, 
to suppose that they did not anticipate its failure when 
they set it on foot. 

At this time Congress had under consideration the 
subject of foreign alliances. The American States 
being now an independent power, declared to be such 
by the solemn act of a united people, they might 
properly assume and maintain this character in rela- 
tion to other governments. Aids in money and all 
kinds of military supplies were wanted. Congress had 
the benefits of a lucrative commerce to offer in ex- 
change. It was decided to make the first application 
to the court of France, and to proffer a commercial 
treaty, which should be mutually advantageous to the 
two countries. The hard terms, which England had 
extorted from the misfortunes of France in the treaty 
at the close of the last war, as impolitic on the part of 
the former as they were humiliating to the latter, af- 
forded but a feeble guaranty of a lasting peace. Time 
and reflection had increased the discontent, which was 
manifested by loud complaints when the treaty was 

416 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

made. It was believed that France, in this temper, 
would not view with indifference the contest between 
England and her colonies, nor forego so good an op- 
portunity of contributing to weaken the power of a 
rival, against whom she had laid up heavy charges for 
a future adjustment. 

Congress deemed it advisable, at all events, to act 
upon this presumption. They appointed three com- 
missioners, Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, 
"to transact the business- of the United States at the 
court of France." They were furnished with the draft 
of a treaty, credentials, and instructions. The mem- 
bers enjoined secrecy on themselves in regard to these 
proceedings. Silas Deane was already in France, hav- 
ing been sent thither as a commercial and political 
agent, instructed to procure munitions of war and for- 
ward them to the United States, and to ascertain, as 
far as he could, the views and disposition of the 
French court. Arthur Lee was in England. Frank- 
lin made immediate preparations for his voyage. He 
left Philadelphia on the 26th of October, accompanied 
by two of his grandsons, William Temple Franklin 
and Benjamin Franklin Bache. They passed the night 
at Chester, and the next day embarked on board the 
Continental sloop of war Reprisal, carrying sixteen 
guns, and commanded by Captain Wickes. 

As a proof of Franklin's zeal in the cause of his 
country, and of his confidence in the result, it may be 
stated, that, before he left Philadelphia, he raised all 
the money he could command, being between three 
and four thousand pounds, and placed it as a loan at 
the disposal of Congress. 

jEt. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 417 


Voyage to France. — Arrives at Nantes. — Proceeds to Paris, and takes 
up his Residence at Passy. — His Reception in France. — Influence 
of his Name and Character. — Pictures, Busts, and Prints of him.— 
Interview with Count de Vergennes. — Money obtained from the 
French Court, and Military Supplies sent to the United States. — 
Contract with the Farmers-General. — Franklin disapproves the Poli- 
cy of seeking Alliances with the European Powers. — Lord Stormont. 
— Application of Foreign Officers for Employment in the American 
Army. — Lafayette. — Reasons why the French delay to enter into a 
Treaty with the United States. — Interview with Count de Vergennes 
on that Subject. — Treaty of Amity and Commerce. — Treaty of Al- 
liance. — Franklin and the other Commissioners introduced at Court. 

After a boisterous passage of thirty days from the 
Capes of Delaware, the Reprisal came to anchor in 
Quiberon Bay, near the mouth of the Loire. While 
crossing the Gulf Stream, Dr. Franklin repeated the 
experiments which he had made on his last voyage 
from England, for ascertaining the temperature of the 
sea. The result was the same as he had then found 
it. The water was warmer in the Gulf Stream, than 
in other parts of the ocean. The sloop was some- 
times chased by British cruisers, and Captain Wickes 
prepared for action ; but he had been instructed to 
avoid an engagement if possible, and to proceed direct- 
ly to the coast of France. By good management he 
escaped his pursuers, and no action occurred during 
the voyage. Two days before he came in sight of 
land he took two prizes, brigantines, one belonging 
to Cork, the other to Hull, laden with cargoes ob- 
tained in French ports. 

The wind being contrary, Captain Wickes could 
not sail up the river to Nantes, the port to which he 
was bound. After a detention of four days in Qui- 

vol. i. No. 9. 53 

418 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

beron Bay, Dr. Franklin was set on shore with his 
grandsons at the little town of Auray. Thence he 
travelled by land to Nantes, a distance of seventy miles, 
where he arrived on the 7th of December. 

His arrival in France was entirely unexpected. The 
news' of his appointment had not preceded him, this 
having been kept secret in Congress. It was easily 
conjectured, however, that he would not come so far 
without being invested with some important public 
mission, and the friends .of America greeted him with 
cordiality and lively expressions of joy. The event 
was celebrated by a dinner, at which he was invited 
to be present, and which was attended by a large 
number of persons. Fatigued with the voyage and 
his journey from Auray, he sought repose for a short 
time at the country-seat of M. Gruel, near the town ; 
but in this retreat many visiters called to see him, as 
well to testify their personal respect, as to make 
inquiries concerning the state of affairs in America. 
From Nantes he wrote as follows to the President of 

" Our voyage, though not long, was rough, and I 
feel myself weakened by it ; but I now recover strength 
daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake 
the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any pub- 
lic character, thinking it prudent first to know whether 
the court is ready and willing to receive ministers 
publicly from the Congress ; that we may neither em- 
barrass it on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to 
the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other. I 
have despatched an express to Mr. Deane, with the 
letters that I had for him from the Committee, and a 
copy of our commission, that he may immediately make 
the proper inquiries, and give me information. In the 
mean time I find it generally supposed here, that I 

iEr. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 419 

am sent to negotiate ; and that opinion appears to give 
great pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civili- 
ties I meet with from numbers of the principal peo- 
ple, who have done me the honor to visit me." 

He stayed eight days at Nantes, and then set off 
for Paris, and reached that city on the 21st of De- 
cember.* He found Mr. Deane there, and Mr. Lee 
joined them the next day, so that the commissioners 
were prepared to enter immediately upon their official 
duties. Shortly afterwards Dr. Franklin removed to 
Passy, a pleasant village near Paris, and took lodgings 
in a commodious house belonging to M. Leray de 
Chaumont, a zealous friend to the American cause. 
He remained at that place during the whole of his 
residence in France. 

The intelligence of Franklin's arrival at Paris was 
immediately published and circulated throughout Eu- 
rope. His brilliant discoveries in electricity, thirty years 
before, had made him known as a philosopher wher- 
ever science was studied or genius respected. His 
writings on this subject had already been translated 
into many languages ; and also his Poor Richard, and 
some other miscellaneous pieces, clothed in a style of 
surpassing simplicity and precision, and abounding in 
sagacious maxims relating to human affairs and the 
springs of human action, which are almost without a 

* Madame du DefFand says, in a letter dated on the 18th of December ; 
" The object of Dr. Franklin's visit is still problematical ; and what is 
the most singular of all is, that no one can tell whether he is actually 
in Paris or not. For three or four days it has been said in the morn- 
ing that he had arrived, and in the evening that he had not yet come." 
Again, on the 22d, she writes; "Dr. Franklin arrived in town yester- 
day, at two o'clock in the afternoon ; he slept the night before at Ver- 
sailles. He was accompanied by two of his grandsons, one seven years 
old, the other seventeen, and by his friend, M. Penet. He has taken 
lodgings in the Rue de l'Universite." — Lettres de la Marquise du Def- 
fand a Horace JValpole, Tom. III. p. 343. 

420 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

parallel in any other writer.* The history of his re- 
cent transactions in England, his bold and uncompro- 
mising defence of his country's rights, his examination 
before Parliament, and the abuse he had received from 
the ministers, were known everywhere, and had added 
to the fame of a philosopher and philanthropist that of 
a statesman and patriot. A French historian, of the 
first celebrity, speaks of him as follows ; 

" By the effect which Franklin produced in France, 
one might say that he fulfilled his mission, not with a 
court, but with a free people. Diplomatic etiquette 
did not permit him often to hold interviews with the 
ministers, but he associated with all the distinguished 
personages, who directed public opinion. Men imag- 
ined they saw in him a -sage of antiquity, come back 
to give austere lessons and generous examples to the 
moderns. They personified in him the republic, of 
which he was the representative and the legislator. 
They regarded his virtues as those of his countrymen, 
and even judged of their physiognomy by the impos- 
ing and serene traits of his own. Happy was he, who 
could gain admittance to see him in the house which 
he occupied at Passy. This venerable old man, it 
was said, joined to the demeanor of Phocion the spir- 
it of Socrates. Courtiers were struck with his native 
dignity, and discovered in him the profound statesman. 
Young officers, impatient to signalize themselves in 
another hemisphere, came to interrogate him respect- 
ing the military condition of the Americans ; and, when 

* There are three separate translations of Poor Richard in the French 
language ; one by Dubourg, another by Q,uetant, and a third by Caste- 
ra. Many editions have been printed, and some of them in a beauti- 
ful style of typography. It has also been translated into modern Greek; 
and a new translation has been recently made from the French into 
Spanish by Mangino, and published, with a selection from Franklin's 
miscellaneous writings, in the same language. 



S / /V//7 


// / 0/i 

graved U T EWelH, 


JEt. 70.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 421 

he spoke to them with" deep concern and a manly 
frankness of the recent defeats, which had put his 
country in jeopardy, this only excited in them a more 
ardent desire to join and assist the republican soldiers. 

" After this picture, it would be useless to trace the 
history of Franklin's negotiations with the court of 
France. His virtues and his renown negotiated for 
him ; and, before the second year of his mission had 
expired, no one conceived it possible to refuse fleets 
and an army to the compatriots of Franklin."* 

The commissioners were furnished by Congress, in 
the first place, with the plan of a treaty of commerce, 
which they were to propose to the French govern- 
ment. They were likewise instructed to procure from 
that court, at the expense of the United States, eight 
line -of- battle ships, well manned and fitted for service ; 
to borrow money; to procure and forward military 

* Histoire de France, par Charles Lacretelle, Tom. V. p. 92. — The 
same historian adds, that portraits of Franklin were everywhere to be seen, 
with the sublime inscription, which was first applied to him by Turgot ; 
" Eripuit ccbIo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis." 

A variety of medallions were likewise made, on which his head was 
represented, of various sizes, suitable to be set in the lids of snuffbox- 
es, or to be worn in rings ; and vast numbers were sold ; as well as 
numerous copies of pictures, busts, and prints, in which the artists vied 
with each other to attain beauty of execution and accuracy of resem- 
blance. While he resided in England, he wore a wig, according to the 
fashion of the times, of somewhat formidable dimensions. His head is 
thus covered in the portraits by Chamberlin and Martin, both of which 
are deemed good likenesses. In another picture of him, by West, paint- 
ed in England, which is now in the possession of Mr. Edward D. In- 
graham, of Philadelphia, the wig is likewise retained. After he went to 
France he laid aside this appendage, and supplied its place with a fur 
cap, which is seen in some of the engravings. But at length this was 
dispensed with. The portrait by Duplessis is considered the best that 
was taken in France, and in this he appears with his own hair, thin at 
the top, but flowing down the sides of his head and neck nearly to the 
shoulders. During the latter years of his life he seldom went abroad 
without spectacles, fitted by an invention of his own, for rendering ob- 
jects distinctly visible at different distances from the eye. 

422 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1776. 

supplies ; and to fit out armed vessels under the flag 
of the United States, provided the French court should 
not disapprove this measure. They were, moreover, 
authorized to ascertain the views of other European 
powers, through their ambassadors in France, and to 
endeavour to obtain from them a recognition of the 
independence and sovereignty of the United States ; 
and to enter into treaties of amity and commerce with 
such powers, if opportunities should present themselves. 
It was expected, that remittances would be made to 
them from time to time, in American produce, to meet 
their expenses and pecuniary engagements. 

The Count de Vergennes was the minister of for- 
eign affairs in the French cabinet, and from first to 
last the principal mover in what related to the Amer- 
ican war. On the 28th of December, he admitted 
the commissioners to an audience at Versailles. He 
received them with marked civility, and conversed with 
them freely. They laid before him their commission 
and the plan of a treaty. He assured them, that they 
might depend on the protection of the court while 
they were in France ; that due attention would be 
given to what they had offered; and that all the fa- 
cilities would be granted to American commerce and 
navigation in French ports, which were compatible 
with the treaties existing between France and Great 
Britain. He requested them to draw up a memoir, 
containing an account of the situation of affairs in the 
United States. This was presented a few days after- 
wards, with the part of their instructions relating to 
ships of war. No direct answer was returned, the 
French government not being yet prepared openly to 
espouse the cause of the Americans, which would ne- 
cessarily bring on a war with England. By the ad- 
vice of Count de Vergennes, they had an interview 

^t. 71.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 423 

with Count d'Aranda, the Spanish ambassador, who 
promised to forward copies of their memorials to his 
court, which he said would act in concert with that 
of France. 

Notwithstanding this reserve, the court of France 
had resolved to assist the Americans. A million of 
livres had already been secretly advanced to Beau- 
marchais for this purpose. Munitions of war to a large 
amount were purchased by him, in part with this mon- 
ey, and in part with such other means as he could 
command. By an arrangement with Mr. Deane, he 
shipped these articles to the United States, and Con- 
gress was to pay for them by remitting tobacco and 
other American produce. Before the commissioners 
arrived, Mr. Deane had procured, on these conditions, 
thirty thousand fusils, two hundred pieces of brass 
cannon, thirty mortars, four thousand tents, clothing 
for thirty thousand men, and two hundred tons of 
gunpowder. They were shipped in different vessels, 
the most of which arrived safely in the United States. 
- The French government did not grant the ships of 
war requested by Congress, but the commissioners 
were informed, through a private channel, that they 
would receive two millions of livres in quarterly pay- 
ments, to be expended for the use of the United 
States. At first it was intimated to them, that this 
money was a loan from generous individuals, who 
wished well to the Americans in their struggle for 
freedom, and that it was not expected to be repaid 
till after the peace. In fact, however, it was drawn 
from the King's treasury, and the payments of half a 
million quarterly were promptly made. The commis- 
sioners likewise entered into a contract with the Far- 
mers-General, by which it was agreed to furnish them 
with five thousand hogsheads of tobacco at a stipulated 

424 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1777. 

price. One million of livres was advanced on this 
contract. Within a few months they were thus put 
in possession of three millions of livres. 

With this money they continued to purchase arms, 
clothing for soldiers, ail kinds of military equipments, 
and naval stores, which they sent to America. They 
built a frigate at Amsterdam, and another at Nantes. 
They also contributed the means for supplying Ameri- 
can cruisers, that came into French ports. In these 
operations they were often embarrassed. Every thing 
was done with as much secrecy as possible ; but Lord 
Stormont, the British ambassador, had spies in all the 
principal ports, and gained a knowledge of their pro- 
ceedings. His remonstrances to the court were lis- 
tened to, and were followed by orders for detaining 
the vessels which the commissioners had provided. 
Sometimes the goods would be taken out and put on 
shore, and at other times they would be stopped in 
their transportation from place to place. The Amer- 
ican cruisers brought in prizes and effected sales. 
This drew fresh remonstrances from the British am- 
bassador ; and, on one occasion, Count de Vergennes 
wrote a letter to the commissioners censuring this con- 
duct, and declaring that no transactions could be al- 
lowed, which infringed upon treaties. Knowing the 
actual disposition of the court, however, they were 
not deterred by these obstacles. They continued, by 
pursuing a prudent course, to ship to the United States 
all the articles they procured, which were of the ut- 
most importance to the American army. 

The business was chiefly managed by Dr. Franklin 
and Mr. Deane. The commissioners being authorized 
by their instructions to make application to any of the 
European powers and to solicit aids for prosecuting 
the war, Mr. Lee was accordingly deputed by them 

jEt. 71.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 425 

to undertake this service, first in Spain and afterwards 
in Prussia. On these missions he was absent nearly 
all the spring and summer. Dr. Franklin disapproved 
the policy of seeking foreign alliances, and he had op- 
posed this measure when it was under discussion in 
Congress. He thought the dignity of the United 
States would be better sustained by waiting for the 
advances of other governments. The majority, how- 
ever, were of a different opinion, and commissioners 
or ministers to different courts in Europe were from 
time to time appointed. Very little success attended 
these applications.* 

Dr. Franklin had been but a few weeks in France, 
when he received from Congress a commission to 
treat with the court of Spain, with the proper creden- 
tials and instructions ; but, this affair being already in 
the hands of Mr. Lee, and there being no sufficient 
evidence that his Catholic Majesty was ready, either 
to enter into a treaty with the United States, or to 
contribute essential aid for carrying on the war, he 
declined acting under the commission, and gave such 
reasons as were satisfactory to Congress. He con- 
sulted Count d'Aranda, the Spanish ambassador, who 
discouraged any immediate attempt to negotiate with 
his court. 

It was reported to the commissioners, that Ameri- 
can prisoners, who had been captured at sea, were 
treated with unjustifiable severity in England ; that some 
of them were compelled to enter the navy and fight 
against their friends, and that others were sent to the 
British settlements in Africa and Asia. They wrote 
to Lord Stormont, suggesting an exchange of seamen 
thus captured for an equal number of British prison- 

* See remarks on this subject in Sparks's Life of Gouverneur Mor- 
ris, Vol. I. p. 205. 

vol. i. 54 jj* 

426 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1777. 

ers, who had been brought into France by an Amer- 
ican cruiser. His Lordship did not condescend to re- 
turn an answer. They wrote again, and drew from 
him the following laconic reply. "The King's ambas- 
sador receives no applications from rebels, unless they 
come to implore his Majesty's mercy." The paper, 
containing this piece of insolence, was sent back. " In 
answer to a letter," say they, " which concerns some 
of the most material interests of humanity, and of the 
two nations, Great Britain and the United States, we 
received the enclosed indecent paper, which we return 
for your Lordship's more mature consideration." The 
British ministry, however, did not long uphold the ar- 
rogance of their ambassador. The number of cap- 
tures made at sea by the American cruisers soon 
convinced them of the policy, if not of the humanity, 
of exchanging prisoners, according to the common 
usage of nations at war.* 

The multitude of foreign officers applying for letters 
of recommendation to Congress, or to General Wash- 
ington, was so great, as to be a source of unceasing 
trouble and embarrassment. Scarcely had Dr. Frank- 
lin landed in France when applications began to 
throng upon him for employment in the American ar- 
my. They continued to the end of the war, coming 
from every country, and written in almost every lan- 
guage, of Europe. Some of the writers told only the 
story of their own exploits ; others enclosed the cer- 
tificates of friends, or of generals under whom they had 
served ; while others were backed by the interest of 
persons of high rank and influence, whom it was im- 

# After Dr. Franklin's arrival in France, a stove invented by him 
became fashionable and was much used. One of the ministers was 
asked whether he would have one. " By no means," said he ; " Lord 
Stormont will then never warm himself at my fire." 

^Et. 71.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 427 

possible to gratify, and disagreeable to refuse. It was 
in vain that he assured them, that he had no power 
to engage officers, that the army was already full, that 
his recommendation could not create vacancies, and 
that they would inevitably be disappointed when they 
arrived in America. Writing to a friend on this sub- 
ject, he says ; " Not a day passes in which I have not 
a number of soliciting visits, besides letters. You 
can have no idea how I am harassed. All my friends 
are sought out and teased to tease me. Great officers 
of rank in all departments, ladies, great and small, be- 
sides professed solicitors, worry me from morning to 
night." To a person, who importuned him in this 
way, he wrote as follows. 

"You demand whether I will support you by my 
authority in giving you letters of recommendation. I 
doubt not your being a man of merit ; and, knowing 
it yourself, you may forget that it is not known to 
everybody ; but reflect a moment, Sir, and you will 
be convinced, that, if I were to practise giving letters 
of recommendation to persons of whose character I 
knew no more than I do of yours, my recommenda- 
tions would soon be of no authority at all. I thank 
you, however, for your kind desire of being service- 
able to my countrymen; and I wish in return, that I 
could be of service to you in the scheme you have 
formed of going to America. But numbers of experi- 
enced officers here have offered to go over and join 
our army, and I could give them no encouragement, 
because I have no orders for that purpose, and I 
know it extremely difficult to place them when they 
arrive there. I cannot but think, therefore, that it is 
best for you not to make so long, so expensive, and 
so hazardous a voyage, but to take the advice of your 
friends, and ( stay in Franconia.'" 

428 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1777. 

One officer, however, he recommended without re- 
luctance or reserve, and he afterwards had the satis- 
faction of finding, in common with the whole Ameri- 
can people, that his judgment was not deceived, nor 
his hopes disappointed. In a letter to Congress, signed 
by him and Mr. Deane, they say; "The Marquis de 
Lafayette, a young nobleman of great family connex- 
ions here, and great wealth, is gone to America in a 
ship of his own, accompanied by some officers of dis- 
tinction, in order to serve in our armies. He is ex- 
ceedingly beloved, and everybody's good wishes at- 
tend him. We cannot but hope he may meet with 
such a reception as will make the country and his 
expedition agreeable to him. Those, who censure it as 
imprudent in him, do nevertheless applaud his spir- 
it ; and we are satisfied, that the civilities and respect, 
that may be shown him, will be serviceable to our 
affairs here, as pleasing not only to his powerful rela- 
tions and to the court, but to the whole French na- 
tion. He has left a beautiful young wife, and, for her 
sake particularly, we hope that his bravery and ardent 
desire to distinguish himself will be a little restrained 
by the General's prudence, so as not to permit his 
being hazarded much, except on some important oc- 

Dr. Franklin had been ten months in France before 
the court of Versailles manifested any disposition to 
engage openly in the American contest. The opinion 
of the ministers was divided on this subject. Count 
de Vergennes and Count Maurepas, the two principal 
ministers, were decidedly in favor of a war with Eng- 
land, and of bringing it on by uniting with the Amer- 
icans. Some of the others, among whom was Turgot 
while he was in the cabinet, disapproved this policy, 
and the King himself came into it with reluctance. 

Mr. 71.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 429 

Moreover, the events of the campaign of 1776 afford- 
ed little encouragement to such a step. The evacu- 
ation of Canada by the American troops, the defeat 
on Long Island, the loss of Fort Washington, the re- 
treat of Washington's army through New Jersey, and 
the flight of Congress from Philadelphia to Baltimore, 
were looked upon in Europe as a prelude to a speedy 
termination of the struggle. This was not a time to 
expect alliances. The ability of the Americans to 
maintain the war for any length of time, as well as 
their union, spirit, and determination, was regarded as 
extremely problematical. The French ministry feared, 
that, embarrassed if not discouraged by their difficul- 
ties, they would, sooner or later, yield to the force of 
old habits, and seek, or at least accept, a reconcilia- 
tion with the mother country. This was the main 
reason, added to the obstacles thrown in the way by 
those who opposed a war on grounds of policy, why 
they did not at an earlier day enter into an alliance 
with the United States. Had this measure been pre- 
mature, and, after an alliance was formed, had the 
Americans returned to their allegiance to the Brit- 
ish King, the French would have found themselves in 
an awkward position, with a war on their hands 
against England, and the censure of the world upon 
them for having recognised the independence and 
taken up the cause of insurgent colonists, who had 
neither the will, the resolution, nor the internal force 
to support the character they had assumed. 

But the tide of affairs soon began to turn in an- 
other direction. In the campaign of 1777, the losses 
of the preceding year were more than retrieved. The 
capture of Burgoyne's army, and the good conduct 
of the forces under General Washington in Pennsyl- 
vania, gave sufficient evidence that the Americans were 

430 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1777. 

in earnest, and that they wanted neither physical 
strength nor firmness of purpose. On the 4th of De- 
cember, an express arrived in Paris from the United 
States, bringing the news of the capture of Burgoyne 
and the battle of Germantown. The commissioners im- 
mediately communicated this intelligence to the French 
court. Two days afterwards, M. Gerard, the secre- 
tary of the King's Council, called on Dr. Franklin at 
Passy, and said he had come, by order of Count de 
Vergennes and Count Maurepas, to congratulate the 
commissioners on the success of their countrymen, and 
to assure them that it gave great pleasure at Ver- 
sailles. After some conversation, he advised them to 
renew their proposition for a treaty.* 

A memorial was accordingly prepared by Dr. Frank- 
lin, signed by the commissioners, and presented to 
Count de Vergennes; and, on the 12th, by the ap- 
pointment of that minister, a meeting took place at 
Versailles between Count de Vergennes and M. Ge- 
rard on one part, and the American commissioners on 
the other, for the purpose of discussing the prelimina- 

* When some one mentioned to Dr. Franklin, that General Howe 
had taken Philadelphia, he replied ; " You are mistaken ; Philadelphia 
has taken General Howe." And so it turned out, for the British were 
shut up in that city during eight months, and were at last obliged to re- 
treat from it precipitately, without having derived any advantage from 
their conquest. Mr. Bache and his family retired into the country when 
the enemy approached, and Dr. Franklin's house was occupied by British 
officers. After the evacuation, Mr. Bache wrote ; " I found your house 
and furniture, upon my return to town, in much better order than I had 
reason to expect. They carried off some of your musical instruments, 
a Welch harp, a bell harp, the set of tuned bells which were in a box, 
a viola a gamba, all the spare Armonica glasses, and one or two of 
the spare cases. Your Armonica is safe. They took likewise the few 
books that were left behind. Some of your electrical apparatus is also 
missing. A Captain Andre took with him the picture of you, which 
hung in the dining-room. The rest of the pictures are safe." — July 
Uth< 1778. 

Mt. 71.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 431 

ries of a treaty. Count de Vergennes complimented 
them on the prosperous state of their affairs, and 
spoke with particular commendation of the movements 
of Washington's army in the face of a superior force. 
He then asked them what they had to propose. Frank- 
lin referred him to the draft of a treaty, which they 
had brought from Congress, and said, if there were 
objections to any part of it, they were ready to con- 
sider them. Count de Vergennes mentioned some 
objections, which were examined, but these related 
to points of secondary importance, without touching 
the fundamental articles. The minister remarked, that 
the relations between France and Spain were of such 
a nature, as to render it necessary to consult his Cath- 
olic Majesty before a treaty could be concluded, and 
to give him an opportunity to join in it, if he should 
think proper ; and that a courier would be immedi- 
ately despatched to Spain, who would be absent three 

Before this time expired, M. Gerard called again 
on the commissioners, and told them that the King, 
by the advice of his Council, had determined to ac- 
knowledge the independence of the United States, and 
to enter into a treaty of amity and commerce with 
them ; that it was the desire and intention of his Maj- 
esty to form such a treaty as would be durable, and 
this could be done only by establishing it on prin- 
ciples of exact reciprocity, so that its continuance should 
be for the interest of both parties ; that no advantage 
would be taken of the present situation of the United 
States to obtain terms, which they would not willing- 
ly agree to under any other circumstances ; and that 
it was his fixed determination to support their inde- 
pendence by all the means in his power. This would 
probably lead to a war with England, yet the King 

432 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1777. 

would not ask, or expect, any compensation for the 
expense or damage he might sustain on that account. 
The only condition required by him would be, that 
the United States should not give up their indepen- 
dence in any treaty of peace they might make with 
England, nor return to their subjection to the British 

It was at length ascertained, that the King of Spain 
was not disposed to take any part in the business. 
The negotiators then proceeded without more delay, 
and their work was soon completed. In its essential 
articles the treaty was the same as the one that had 
been proposed by Congress. 

When this was done, the French minister produced 
the draft of another treaty, called a Treaty of Alliance. 
The objects of this treaty were in some respects of 
much greater importance than those of the former. It 
was to be eventual in its operation, and to take effect 
only in case of a rupture between France and Eng- 
land ; and it was designed to explain the duties of the 
two contracting parties in prosecuting the war, and to 
bind them to certain conditions. 

The first stipulation was, that, while the American 
war continued, both parties should make it a common 
cause, and aid each other as good friends and allies. 
To maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty, and 
independence of the United States, was declared to 
be the essential and direct end of the alliance. It 
was agreed, tKat, if the Americans should gain pos- 
session of any of the British territories in the north- 
ern parts of the continent, not included within the 
limits of the Thirteen States, such territories should 
belong to the United States. If the French King 
should conquer any of the British Islands in or near 
the Gulf of Mexico, they were to be retained by him. 

jEt.71.] life of franklin. 433 

The contracting parties also agreed, that neither of 
them should conclude a truce or peace with Great 
Britain, without the consent of the other first obtain- 
ed ; and they mutually engaged not to lay down their 
arms, until the independence of the United States 
should be assured by the treaty or treaties, which 
should terminate the war. The United States guar- 
antied to the King of France all the possessions he 
then held in America, as well as those he should ac- 
quire by the treaty of peace ; and the King guaran- 
tied to the United States their liberty, sovereignty, and 
independence, and all their possessions, and such ac- 
quisitions as they should gain by conquest from the 
dominions of Great Britain in America, 

In both these treaties it was the aim of the parties 
to adjust every point, as nearly as it could be done, 
upon principles of exact equality and reciprocity. The 
commercial treaty granted reciprocal privileges of trade ; 
and each party was at liberty to grant the same privi- 
leges to any other nation. By the treaty of alliance 
.the United States secured the very great advantage 
of the whole power of France on their side, till their 
independence should be confirmed by a treaty of peace. 
The equivalent expected by France for this use of her 
means, and for the losses and expenses she might in- 
cur in the war, was the separating of the colonies from 
the mother country, thereby striking a heavy blow up- 
on Great Britain; and also a due share of the profits 
of the American trade, the whole of which had hith- 
erto been poured into the lap of England, increasing 
her wealth and enlarging her power. She made no 
provision for obtaining acquisitions on the American 
continent, either by conquest or cession, not even Can- 
ada and the Islands in the St. Lawrence, which had 
been taken from her by the English in the last war. 

vol. i. -55 K K 

434 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

On the contrary, she disavowed, in the most positive 
terms, all intention of seeking such conquest or ac- 
cepting such cession; and it may be added, that her 
conduct during the war and at the peace was in per- 
fect accordance with this declaration. 

The two treaties were signed at Paris on the 6th 
of February, 1 778. They were sent to America by 
a special messenger, and were immediately ratified 
by Congress. The event diffused joy throughout 
the country. Washington set apart a day for the re- 
joicings of the army on the occasion at Valley Forge. 
All saw, or believed they saw, that, whatever might 
be the hazards of the war, independence in the end 
was certain. France was too powerful a nation to be 
conquered, and she had promised her support to the 
last. Her interest and safety were deeply involved in 
the contest, and her honor was pledged. In the en- 
thusiasm of the moment, every heart was filled with 
gratitude to the French King, and every tongue spoke 
his praise. His generosity in agreeing to treaties, so 
favorable in their conditions and so equitable in their 
principles, was lauded to the skies ; and we behold 
the spectacle of two millions of republicans, becoming 
all at once the cordial friends and warm admirers of 
a monarch, who sat on a throne erected by acts, sus- 
tained by a policy, and surrounded by institutions, 
which all true republicans regarded as so many en- 
croachments upon the natural and inalienable rights 
of mankind. In this instance, however, they had no 
just occasion afterwards to regret, that their confidence 
had been misplaced, or their gratitude improperly be- 
stowed. Every promise w r as fulfilled, and every pledge 
was redeemed. 

On the 20th of March, the American commissioners 
were introduced to the King at Versailles, and they 

Mt. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 435 

took their place at court as the representatives of an 
independent power. A French historian, describing 
this ceremony, says of Franklin ; " He was accompa- 
nied and followed by a great number of Americans 
and individuals from various countries, whom curiosity 
had drawn together. His age, his venerable aspect, 
the simplicity of his dress, every thing fortunate and 
remarkable in the life of this American, contributed to 
excite public attention. The clapping of hands and 
other expressions of joy indicated that warmth of en- 
thusiasm, which the French are more susceptible of 
than any other people, and the charm of which is en- 
hanced to the object of it by their politeness and 
agreeable manners. After this audience, he crossed 
ihe court on his way to the office of the minister of 
foreign affairs. The multitude waited for him in the 
passage, and greeted him with their acclamations. He 
met with a similar reception wherever he appeared in 
Paris." * 

From that time both Franklin and the other Amer- 
ican commissioners attended the court at Versailles, 
on the same footing as the ambassadors of the Euro- 
pean powers. Madame Cam pan says, that, on these 
occasions, Franklin appeared in the dress of an Ameri- 
can farmer. "His straight, unpowdered hair, his round 
hat, his brown cloth coat, formed a singular contrast 
with the laced and embroidered coats, and powdered 
and perfumed heads, of the courtiers of Versailles."! 
The rules of diplomatic etiquette did not permit the 
ambassadors of those sovereigns, who had not rec- 
ognised the independence of the United States, to 

* Essais Historiques et Politiques sur la Revolution de l'Amerique. 
Par Hilliard d'Aueerteuil. Tom. I. p. 350. 
f Memoires de Madame Campan, Tom. I. p, 232. 

436 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

extend any official civilities to the ministers of the 
new republic. In private, however, they sought the 
acquaintance and society of Franklin, and among 
them were some of his most esteemed and intimate 
friends. An amusing incident, illustrative of the re- 
serve of the ambassadors in their official character, 
occurred to Dr. Franklin some time after he became 
minister plenipotentiary. The son of the Empress of 
Russia, under the title of Count du Nord, arrived in 
Paris. He sent round his cards to the several foreign 
ambassadors, with his name and that of the Prince 
Bariatinski, the Russian ambassador, written upon them. 
By some accident the messenger left one of these 
cards at Dr. Franklin's house. As this was the first 
instance of the kind, he knew not precisely in what 
manner the civility was to be returned. He inquired 
of an old minister at court, well versed in the rules 
of etiquette, who told him that all he had to do, was 
to stop his carriage at the ambassador's door, and or- 
der his name to be written in the porter's book. 
This ceremony he performed accordingly. " I thought 
no more of the matter," said he, "till the servant, 
who brought the card, came in great affliction, saying 
he was like to be ruined, and wishing to obtain from 
me a paper, of I know not what kind, for I did not 
see him. In the afternoon came my friend, Mr. Le 
Roy, who is also a friend of the Prince's, telling me 
how much he, the Prince, was concerned at the ac- 
cident, that both himself and the Count had great 
personal regard for me and my character, but that, 
our independence not yet being acknowledged by the 
court of Russia, it was impossible for him to permit 
himself to make me a visit as minister. I told M. 
Le Roy it was not my custom to seek such honors, 
though I was very sensible of them when conferred 

Mt. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 437 

upon me; that I should not have voluntarily intruded 
a visit, and that, in this case, I had only done what 
I was informed the etiquette required of me ; but, if it 
would be attended with any inconvenience to Prince 
Bariatinski, whom I much esteemed and respected, I 
thought the remedy was easy; he had only to erase 
my name out of his book of visits received, and I 
would burn their card." 


438 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 


Preparations for War between France and England. — M. Gerard. — 
Mr. . John Adams. — Secret Advances made to Dr. Franklin for ef- 
fecting a Reconciliation between England and the United States. — 
Mr. Hutton. — Mr. Pulteney. — Mr. Hartley. — An Emissary in Dis- 
guise. — Franklin's personal Friends in Paris. — Interview with Vol- 
taire. — Franklin appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of 
France. — Machinations of his Enemies to procure his Recall. — Mr. 
Arthur Lee. — Mr. Ralph Izard. — Visit of Sir William Jones to Paris. 
— Franklin instructs the American Cruisers not to seize Captain Cook's 
Vessel. — Grants Passports to Vessels carrying Supplies to the Mo- 
ravian Missionaries on the Coast of Labrador. — Paul Jones. — The 
Marquis de Lafayette. — Paper on the Aurora Borealis. — Sir Hum- 
phrey Davy. — Mr. Vaughan's Edition of Franklin's Political and Mis- 
cellaneous Writings. 

The French ambassador in London, as instructed 
by his court, informed the British ministry, that a trea- 
ty of amity and commerce had been concluded be- 
tween France and the United States. This was con- 
sidered tantamount to a declaration of war, and Lord 
Stormont was directed to withdraw from Paris. Anti- 
cipating this event, the court of Versailles had already 
begun to prepare for hostilities. A squadron was fit- 
ted out at Toulon, under the command of Count 
d'Estaing, which sailed from that port for America 
about the middle of April. M. Gerard and Mr. Deane 
were passengers on board the admiral's ship. The 
former went out as minister to the United States ; the 
latter had been recalled, in consequence of the agree- 
ments he had entered into with French officers for 
their serving in the American army, by which Con- 
gress had been much embarrassed. His successor 
was Mr. John Adams, who arrived in Paris just at 
the time of Mr. Deane's departure. • 

The British ministers were now convinced, that the 

JEt.72.] life of franklin. 439 

contest was likely to be of longer duration and more 
serious than they had apprehended. There was little 
doubt that Spain would soon follow the example of 
France. A reconciliation with the Americans, there- 
fore, on such terms as would comport with the dig- 
nity of Parliament and the interests of the crown, was 
a thing most ardently to be desired. After warm de- 
bates in Parliament, it was resolved to despatch com- 
missioners to treat with Congress, invested with such 
powers as, it was fondly hoped, would insure their 

In the mean time other measures were put in op- 
eration to effect the same end through the instrumen- 
tality of secret agents. Their advances were chiefly 
made to Dr. Franklin. Even before the treaties were 
signed, an emissary of this description appeared in 
Paris, who endeavoured to obtain from him proposi- 
tions, which he might carry back to England. This 
was Mr. Hutton, secretary to the Society of Moravi- 
ans; an old friend, for whom he had great esteem; a 
-grave man, advanced in years, respected for his vir- 
tues, and possessing the confidence of persons in pow- 
er. Franklin replied, that neither he nor his colleagues 
had any authority to propose terms, although they 
could listen to such as should be offered, and could 
treat of peace whenever proposals should be made. 
Mr. Hutton returned to London, and immediately wrote 
to him, renewing his request for some hints or sug- 
gestions upon which he might proceed, and adding, 
that he believed every thing satisfactory to the Amer- 
icans, short of independence, might be obtained. 

Dr. Franklin was still reserved, however, and only 
intimated, that a peace could not be expected while 
the cabinet and Parliament of Great Britain continued 
in their present temper. Mr. Hutton had asked his 

440 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

advice. He answered ; "I think it is Ariosto who 
says, that all things lost on earth are to be found in 
the moon ; on which somebody remarked, that there 
must be a great deal of good advice in the moon. 
If so, there is a good deal of mine, formerly given and 
lost in this business. I will, however, at your request 
give a little more, but without the least expectation 
that it will be followed ; for none but -God can at the 
same time give good counsel, and wisdom to make 
use of it." He then mentioned certain terms, which 
he said it would be good policy for the British gov- 
ernment to propose, if they meant to recover the re- 
spect and affection of the Americans. 

Mr. Hutton was followed by Mr. William Pulteney, 
a member of Parliament, who assumed in Paris the 
name of Williams, and who was understood to have 
come from Lord North, although not invested with 
any official character. He held a long conversa- 
tion with Dr. Franklin, and presented to him a pa- 
per containing the outlines of a treaty. Franklin told 
him at once, that every plan of reconciliation implying 
a voluntary return of the United States to a depend- 
ence on Great Britain was now become impossible. 

" I see," he remarked, " by the propositions you 
have communicated to me, that the ministers cannot 
yet divest themselves of the idea, that the power of 
Parliament over us is constitutionally absolute and un- 
limited; and that the limitations they may be willing 
now to put to it by treaty are so many favors, or so 
many benefits, for which we are to make compensation. 

" As our opinions in America are totally different, a 
treaty on the terms proposed appears to me utterly 
impracticable, either here or there. Here we certain- 
ly cannot make it, having not the smallest authority 
to make even the declaration specified in the proposed 

jEt. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 441 

letter, without which, if I understood you right, treat- 
ing with us cannot be commenced. 

"I sincerely wish as much for peace as you do, and 
I have enough remaining of good will for England to 
wish it for her sake as well as for our own, and for 
the sake of humanity. In the present state of things, 
the proper means of obtaining it, in my opinion, are, 
to acknowledge the independence of the United States, 
and then enter at once into a treaty with us for a 
suspension of arms, with the usual provisions relating 
to distances ; and another for establishing peace, friend- 
ship, and commerce, such as France has made." * 

The ministry were not discouraged by the failure 
of these attempts. Mr. David Hartley, likewise a mem- 
ber of Parliament, was next employed on a similar 
mission. He had opposed all the measures of gov- 
ernment in relation to the American war; but his 
character was so high and honorable, that he was 
confided in by both parties. An intimate friendship 
between him and Dr. Franklin, formed while the lat- 
ter resided in England, had been preserved ever since 
by a correspondence on public and private affairs. 
His benevolence and philanthropy were eminently mani- 
fested during the war, by the lively interest he took 
in the condition of the American prisoners in England. 
He visited them often, collected money by subscrip- 

* Mr. Pulteney had recently published a pamphlet, entitled, " Thoughts 
on the Present State of Affairs with America, and the Means of Con- 
ciliation." The author's views are expressed with moderation and ap- 
parent candor. He disapproves the scheme of Parliamentary taxation, 
which had brought on the controversy, although he thinks the Ameri- 
cans had taken unjustifiable grounds in their opposition ; and he en- 
deavours to show, that they did not aim at independence, till after the 
petitions of Congress to the King had been rejected. He fortifies his 
remarks by Dr. Franklin's celebrated letters to Governor Shirley, which 
are appended to the pamphlet. 

vol. i. 56 

442 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

tion for their relief, interceded with the ministers in 
their behalf, and used his unremitted efforts at various 
times to procure their exchange. He was very prop- 
erly selected, therefore, as a suitable person to elicit 
Dr. Franklin's views on the subject of a reconciliation. 
He did not propose terms, but inquired, "Whether 
America would not, to obtain peace, grant some su- 
perior advantages in trade to Britain, and enter into 
an alliance, offensive and defensive ; and whether, if 
war should be declared against France, the Americans 
had bound themselves by treaty, to join with her 
against England." It is scarcely necessary to add, 
that the first of these queries was answered in the 
negative. As to the second, Dr. Franklin assured his 
friend, that peace, while a war was waged against 
France on account of her alliance with America, was 
impossible. In short, Mr. Hartley obtained no more 
satisfaction than his predecessors. 

When he was on the point of leaving Paris, he 
w T rote a note to Dr. Franklin, in which he said; "If 
tempestuous times should come, take care of your own 
safety ; events are uncertain, and men are capricious." 
"I thank you for your kind caution," said Franklin in 
reply; "but, having nearly finished a long life, I set 
but little value upon what remains of it. Like a dra- 
per, when one chaffers with him for a remnant, I am 
ready to say, ( As it is only a fag end, I will not dif- 
fer with you about it ; take it for what you please.' 
Perhaps the best use such an old fellow can be put 
to, is to make a martyr of him." It was rumored, 
also, that he was surrounded with spies. Some time 
after the date of the above note, an anonymous letter 
came to a friend of his in Paris, written in cipher, and 
containing the following passage. "Mr. Hartley told 
Lord Camden this morning, that he was sure the 

Mt.72.] life of franklin. 443 

commissioners, and particularly Dr. Franklin, were much 
disconcerted at Paris ; for they might as well live in 
the Bastille, as be exposed, as they are, to the per- 
petual observation of French ministerial spies. This 
must not, however, be repeated." The letter was con- 
veyed to Dr. Franklin, who replied ; " Be so good as 
to answer our friend, that it is impossible Mr. Hart- 
ley could have said what is here represented, no such 
thing having ever been intimated to him ; nor has the 
least idea of the kind ever been in the minds of the 
commissioners, particularly Dr. Franklin, who does not 
care how many spies are placed about him by the 
court of France, having nothing to conceal from them." 
A more formidable advance was made soon after 
by a secret agent under a fictitious name. It was 
now thought proper to mingle threats with persuasion. 
Dr. Franklin received a long letter dated at Brussels, 
and signed Chaises de TVeissenstein, in which was 
sketched not only a plan of reconciliation, but the form 
of a future government in America. The writer speaks 
disparagingly of the French, and says they will cer- 
tainly deceive and betray their allies ; and he repre- 
sents the power of England as invincible, by which 
the colonies would inevitably be overwhelmed, if they 
continued obstinate in their resistance. He affirms 
that Parliament would never be induced to acknowl- 
edge their independence, and that, if such a thing 
were possible, the people of England w T ould never 
submit to it. "Our title to the empire," he says, "is 
indisputable ; it will be asserted, either by ourselves 
or successors, whenever occasion presents. We may 
stop awhile in our pursuit to recover breath, but we 
shall assuredly resume our career again." After these 
threats, he holds out temptations. By the new plan 
of government, now proposed, the Americans were to 

444 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

have a Congress, which should assemble once in sev- 
en years, or oftener, if his Majesty should think fit 
to summon it; the distinguished men, like Franklin, 
Washington, and Adams, were to have offices or pen- 
sions for life ; and perhaps there would be an Ameri- 
can peerage, by which honorary rewards would be 
duly distributed. 

There was little doubt in Franklin's mind, that this 
agent was in Paris, although his letter was dated at 
Brussels. He had good reason for believing, that he 
acted by the direction of the British ministry, and he 
framed his answer accordingly. 

"You think we flatter ourselves," said he, "and 
are deceived into an opinion that England must ac- 
knowledge our independency. We, on the other hand, 
think you flatter yourselves in imagining such an ac- 
knowledgment a vast boon, which we strongly desire, 
and which you may gain some great advantage by 
granting or withholding. We have never asked it of 
you 5 we only tell you, that you can have no treaty 
with us but as an independent state ; and you may 
please yourselves and your children with the rattle of 
your right to govern us, as long as you have done 
with that of your King's being King of France, with- 
out giving us the least concern, if you do not attempt 
to exercise it." 

"Your true way to obtain peace, if your ministers 
desire it, is, to propose openly to the Congress fair 
and equal terms, and you may possibly come sooner 
to such a resolution, when you find, that personal 
flatteries, general cajolings, and panegyrics on our vir- 
tue and wisdom are not likely to have the effect you 
seem to expect ; the persuading us to act basely and 
foolishly, in betraying our country and posterity into 
the hands of our most bitter enemies, giving up or 

^Et. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 445 

selling our arms and warlike stores, dismissing our 
ships of war and troops, and putting those enemies 
in possession of our forts and ports." 

The idea of offices, pensions, and a peerage, he 
treated with a cutting severity of ridicule and sarcasm. 
Indeed, the whole letter is one of the best specimens 
of the writer's peculiar clearness and vigor of thought 
and felicity of style. 

Having now been in France eighteen months, Dr. 
Franklin had attracted around him a large number of 
personal friends. Among these were Turgot, BufFon, 
D'Alembert, Condorcet, La Rochefoucauld, Vicq d'Azyr, 
Cabanis, Le Roy, Morellet, Raynal, Mably, and many 
others, who were conspicuous in the political, scientific, 
and literary circles of the great metropolis of France. 
He was often present at the meetings of the Academy, 
where he was honored with every mark of considera- 
tion and respect. When Voltaire came to Paris for 
the last time, to be idolized and to die, he expressed 
a desire to see the American philosopher. An inter- 
view took place. Voltaire accosted him in English, 
and pursued the conversation in that language. Ma- 
dame Denis interrupted him by saying, that Dr. Frank- 
lin understood French, and that the rest of the com- 
pany wished to know the subject of their discourse. 
"Excuse me, my dear," he replied, "I have the vani- 
ty to show that I am not unacquainted with the lan- 
guage of a Franklin." 

The business of the commissioners continued nearly 
the same as it had been before the treaty of alliance. 
There was more to be done in maritime affairs, be- 
cause American vessels were then freely admitted in- 
to the French ports. Cases of capture and of the sale 
of prizes were referred to them for their decision. 
With the loans obtained from the French government, 


446 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

and comparatively small remittances from America, they 
were enabled to refit public vessels, purchase military 
supplies for the army and navy of the United States, 
contribute to the relief of American prisoners in Eng- 
land, and pay the drafts of Congress. In all these 
transactions Dr. Franklin found an able, zealous, and 
active coadjutor in Mr. Adams.* 

Both Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams had represented 
to Congress the inexpediency of employing three com- 

* Dr. Franklin was subject to visits and calls from all descriptions 
of persons, making applications and inquiries without number. The fol- 
lowing is the journal of a day. 

Passy, December 13th, 1778. " A man came to tell me he had in- 
vented a machine, which would go of itself, without the help of a 
spring, weight, air, water, or any of the elements, or the labor of 
man or beast, and with force sufficient to work four machines for cut- 
ting tobacco ; that he had experienced it ; would show it me if I would 
come to his house, and would sell the secret of it for two hundred 
louis. I doubted it, but promised to go to him" in order to see it 

" A Monsieur Coder came with a proposition in writing, to levy six 
hundred men, to be employed in landing on the coast of England and 
Scotland, to burn and ransom towns and villages, in order to put a stop 
to the English proceedings in that way in America. I thanked him, 
and told him I could not approve it, nor had I any money at command 
for such purposes; moreover, that it would not be permitted by the 
government here. 

" A man came with a request that I would patronize, and recommend 
to government, an invention he had, whereby a hussar might so con- 
ceal his arms and habiliments, with provision for twenty-four hours, as 
to appear a common traveller; by which means a considerable body 
might be admitted into a town, one at a time, unsuspected, and, after- 
wards assembling, surprise it. I told him I was not a military man, of 
course no judge of such matters, and advised him to apply to the Bu- 
reau de la Guerre. He said he had no friends, and so could procure 
no attention. The number of wild schemes proposed to me is so great, 
and they have heretofore taken so much of my time, that I begin to 
reject all, though possibly some of them may be worth notice. 

" Received a parcel from an unknown philosopher, who submits to 
my consideration a memoir on the subject of elementary fire, containing 
experiments in a dark chamber. It seems to be well written, and is in 
English, with a little tincture of French idiom. I wish to see the ex- 
periments, without which I cannot well judge of it." 

This " unknown philosopher" was ascertained to be Marat, afterwards 

Mr. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 447 

missioners in a service, the duties of which might be 
discharged with equal facility and at less expense by- 
one. In conformity with this suggestion, Dr. Franklin 
was appointed minister plenipotentiary to the court of 
France on the 14th of September. The commission 
was dissolved, and Mr. Adams returned to America. 
Mr. Lee stayed some time longer, holding nominally 
a commission to Spain, but never going to that court. 

It is not the design of this narrative, nor is it pos- 
sible within the limits prescribed, to write a history 
of the public transactions in which Dr. Franklin was 
concerned. Some of the more prominent incidents, 
and those of a personal nature, are all that can be 
introduced. But justice to his memory, as well as 
gratitude for the great services he rendered to his 
country, require, that some of the particulars should 
be stated in regard to the means that were used to 
embarrass his proceedings and injure his character. 

Among those, who took upon themselves this un- 
worthy task, the most active and persevering was 
'Mr. Arthur Lee. This gentleman was a Virginian by 
birth, a brother of Richard Henry Lee. A few years 
before the war broke out, he went to London, stud- 
ied law in the Temple, and commenced practice. His 
talents and attainments were respectable, he was a 
good writer, and supported the cause of his country 
with ardor and a uniform consistency. But his temper 
was restless and vehement. Jealous of his rivals and 
distrustful of everybody, he involved himself, and those 
connected with him, in a succession of disputes and 

of notorious memory. At this time he was devoted to philosophical 
studies, and he wrote several treatises on light, heat, and electricity, 
which are praised by his biographers for their matter and style* He 
occasionally invited Dr. Franklin, and other men of science, to see his 

448 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

His hostility to Franklin showed itself at an early 
date. It has been seen above, that, when Dr. Frank- 
lin was appointed agent for Massachusetts at the court 
of London, Mr. Lee was nominated to be his succes- 
sor whenever he should retire. Circumstances detain- 
ed him longer in England than he had expected. 
Mr. Lee grew impatient, and fearing, as he said, that 
Dr. Franklin would never depart "till he was gath- 
ered to his fathers," he resorted to the dishonorable 
artifice of writing letters to one of the principal mem- 
bers of the Massachusetts legislature, filled with charges 
against him in regard to his official conduct, as desti- 
tute of foundation in point of fact, as they were of 
candor and propriety. This was the more reprehen- 
sible, as Dr. Franklin consulted him on proper occa- 
sions respecting the affairs of the colony, treated him 
as a friend and considered him as such, and spoke 
favorably of him in his correspondence. It is true, 
that these charges did not then produce the effect 
desired by Mr. Lee ; yet they gave rise to suspicions, 
which long existed in the minds of the prominent 
men of Massachusetts, and which were utterly with- 
out any just cause. 

Before Dr. Franklin's arrival in France, Mr. Lee 
had fallen into a quarrel with Mr. Deane. Some 
months previously, Beaumarchais had consulted him in 
London with respect to the best mode of forwarding 
secret aids to the United States. A plan was partly 
matured, in which Mr. Lee supposed he was to be a 
principal actor. But, when Mr. Deane appeared in 
Paris, as an agent from Congress, the plan was changed, 
and Beaumarchais completed his arrangements directly 
with him, because he was the only person in Europe 
authorized by Congress to enter into contracts on 
their account. Mr. Lee, hearing of this change, has- 

JSt.72.] life of franklin. 449 

tened over to Paris, accused Mr. Deane of interfering 
in his affairs, and endeavoured to stir up a contention 
between him and Beaumarchais. Failing in this at- 
tempt, he returned to London, vexed at his disap- 
pointment and angry with Mr. Deane. 

Such was the disposition of Mr. Lee towards his 
associates, when the commissioners met in Paris. For 
seven or eight months there was an apparent harmo- 
ny, for Mr. Lee was absent the most of the time in 
Spain and Germany, and the business was transacted 
by Franklin and Deane. But no sooner had he again 
joined his colleagues, than his suspicious temper and 
aspiring ambition raised up new troubles, and he be- 
gan to foment discords both in Europe and America, 
which ultimately threatened alarming consequences to 
the foreign affairs of the United States. He was dis- 
satisfied with all that his colleagues had done, found 
fault with their contracts, and more than insinuated 
that they had been heedlessly extravagant, partial to 
friends, and indulgent to themselves, in the expendi- 
ture of public money. This was not the worst. His 
letters to members of Congress teemed with charges 
and insinuations, which, although they were not sus- 
tained by any positive evidence, could not fail to pro- 
duce impressions as erroneous, as they were unjust 
to those, whom he chose to consider his enemies, 
and* whom he believed to stand in his way. 

As early as October, 1777, his designs were un- 
folded in letters to his brothers, and to Samuel Ad- 
ams, who were then members of Congress. He rep- 
resents the American affairs in France to be in the 
utmost disorder and confusion, by the negligence and 
faithlessness of his associate commissioners, who would 
pay no regard to his counsels and admonitions, and 
whom it was impossible for him to control; and ho 

vol. i. 57 LL* 

450 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1778. 

then begs his friends to remember, that, if there should 
be a question in Congress about his destination, he 
should "prefer being at the court of France" for he 
had discovered that court to be "the great wheel," 
by which all the others were moved. He recom- 
mended that Dr. Franklin should be sent to Vienna, 
and Mr. Deane to Holland. "In that case," said he, 
"I should have it in my power to call those to an 
account, through whose hands I know the public mon- 
ey has passed, and which will either never be account- 
ed for, or misaccounted for, by connivance between 
those, who are to share in the pubiic plunder. If 
this scheme can be executed, it will disconcert all the 
plans at one stroke, without an appearance of inten- 
tio?i, and save both the public and me." These hints 
and insinuations require no comment. 

He continued the same manoeuvres for several 
months. At one time he intimated, that Dr. Franklin 
had sent out a public vessel on a " cruising job," in 
the profits of which he was to share ; and, at another, 
that he and the American banker in Paris, were in a 
league to defraud the public, and to put money into 
their own pockets. It is needless to say, that there 
was not one word of truth in these charges, nor any 
grounds for them, except in Mr. Lee's heated pas- 
sions, distempered imagination, and ambitious hopes. 
He did not succeed in his schemes, but he was* not 
the less pertinacious in pursuing them. His letters 
produced a mischievous influence, fanning the flame 
of party, and exciting suspicions of almost every pub- 
lic agent abroad, whom he did not regard as subser- 
vient to his views. It is scarcely too much to say, 
that the divisions and feuds, which reigned for a long 
time in Congress, with respect to the foreign affairs 

JEt. 72.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 451 

of the United States, are to be ascribed more to this 
malign influence, than to all other causes.* 

Another individual, who placed himself among the 
foremost of Dr. Franklin's enemies, was Mr. Ralph 
Izard. He imbibed his prejudices in the first instance 
from Mr. Lee. He resided nearly two years in Paris 
as commissioner from the United States to the court 
of Tuscany ; but, having no direct intercourse with that 
court, and no encouragement that he would be re- 
ceived there, it was not in his power to render any 
public service, and* he was at length recalled. 

There were two causes of his enmity to Franklin. 
Whilst the treaties were negotiating with France, he 
conceived that he ought to be consulted, in virtue of 
his commission to another court; he complained of 
being overlooked, and demanded an explanation. Not 
recognising his authority to make such a demand, Dr. 
Franklin was tardy in answering it; and Mr. Izard 
chose to look upon this remissness as a slight, and to 
assume it as the ground of a quarrel. On this point 
it is enough to say, that he was not in the commis- 
sion for treating with France, and could not, with the 
least propriety, claim to be consulted in the negotia- 
tion. Again, after Dr. Franklin became minister pleni- 
potentiary, the drafts for public money expended in 
Europe passed through his hands. He was to pay 
the salaries of the American commissioners at other 
courts. He paid to Mr. Izard about twelve thousand 
dollars, and, there being no prospect of his going to 
the court of Tuscany, he declined accepting further 
drafts, till he should receive such instructions from 
Congress as would meet the case. Mr. Izard's pride 

* For additional facts in proof of what is here said of Mr. Lee, and 
of his mode of attacking Dr. Franklin, the reader is referred to Vol. 
VIII. pp. 57, 257, 444. 

452 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1779. 

was wounded by this refusal. He neither suppressed 
nor concealed his resentment ; and he never practised 
any reserve in avowing his settled hostility to Dr. 
Franklin. * 

The imputations of these gentlemen, and of some 
others with whom they were allied in opinions and 
sympathy, reiterated in letters to members of Con- 
gress, would necessarily produce a strong impression, 
especially as Dr. Franklin took no pains whatever to 
vindicate himself, or to counteract the arts of his ene- 
mies. He was not ignorant of their'proceedings. The 
substance of their letters, which the writers seemed 
not to desire should be kept secret, was communicat- 
ed to him by his friends, f Relying on his character, 
and conscious of the rectitude of his course, he al- 
lowed them to waste their strength in using their 
own weapons, and never condescended to repel their 
charges or explain his conduct. This apparent apa- 
thy on his part contributed to give countenance to the 
suspicions, which had been infused into the minds of 
many, by the persevering industry of his adversaries. 
At one time those suspicions had gained so much as- 
cendancy, that his recall was proposed in Congress. 
There were thirty-five members present, eight of 
whom voted for his recall, and twenty-seven against 
it. Some of the latter were probably not his friends, 

* His daughter said, in a letter to him, after referring to some of 
these particulars ; " Your friends thought it best you should know what 
is doing on this side of the water, what wicked things pride and am- 
bition make people do ; but I hope these envious men will be disap- 
pointed in every scheme of theirs to lessen your character, or to sep- 
arate you from those you love. Your knowing their intentions in time 
may be a means of disappointing them in their plan." — Philadelphia, 
October 22d, 1778. 

f See Vol. VIII. 250, 308, 388. The whole burden of Mr. Izard's 
complaints is laid open in his letters to Congress. — Diplomatic Corre- 
spondence, Vol. II. pp. 367-448. 

jEt.73.] life of franklin. 453 

but yielded to the motives of a patriotic policy, rath- 
er than to the impulse of personal feeling. That he 
was the best man to fill a public station abroad, 
no one could doubt; that he should be sacrificed to 
gratify the spleen of disappointed ambition and of- 
fended pride, few could reconcile to their sense of 
justice, or to their regard for the true interests of 
their country. 

It is interesting to see in what manner he speaks 
of his enemies, and of the artifices they employed to 
injure him. In writing to the Committee of Foreign 
Affairs, eighteen months after Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard 
began their opposition, he says ; " Congress have wise- 
ly enjoined the ministers in Europe to agree with one 
another. I had always resolved to have no quarrel, 
and have, therefore, made it a constant rule to an- 
swer no angry, affronting, or abusive letters, of which 
I have received many, and long ones, from Mr. Lee 
and Mr. Izard, who, I understand, and see indeed by 
the papers, have been writing liberally, or rather illib- 
erally, against me, to prevent, as one of them says 
here, any impressions my writings against them might 
occasion to their prejudice ; but I have never before 
mentioned them in any of my letters." To his son- 
in-law, who had informed him of the efforts used 
against him by certain persons, he replies, that he is 
" very easy " about these efforts, and adds ; " I trust 
in the justice of Congress, that they will listen to no 
accusations against me, that I have not first been ac- 
quainted with, and had an opportunity of answering. 
I know those gentlemen have plenty of ill will to me, 
though I have never done to either of them the 
smallest injury, or given the least just cause of of- 
fence. But my too great reputation, and the general 
good will this people have for me, and the respect 

454 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1779. 

they show me, and even the compliments they make 
me, all grieve those unhappy gentlemen." 

He writes in a similar tone, whenever he has oc- 
casion to allude to the subject, which rarely occurs, 
except when his attention is called to it by his cor- 
respondents. At a date two years later than that of 
the above extracts, he says to Mr. Hopkinson ; " As 
to the friends and enemies you just mention, I have 
hitherto, thanks to God, had plenty of the former 
kind ; they have been my treasure ; and it has per- 
haps been no disadvantage to me, that I have had a 
few of the latter. They serve to put us upon cor- 
recting the faults we have, and avoiding those we are 
in danger of having. They counteract the mischiefs 
flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make 
our friends more zealous in serving us and promoting 
our interest. At present I do not know more than 
two such enemies that I enjoy.* I deserved the en- 
mity of the latter, because I might have avoided it by 
paying him a compliment, which I neglected. That 
of the former I owe to the people of France, who 
happened to respect me too much and him too little ; 
which I could bear, and he could not. They are un- 
happy, that they cannot make everybody hate me as 
much as they do ; and I should be so, if my friends 
did not love me much more than those gentlemen can 
possibly love one another." 

The British ministry were still intent on some scheme 
of reconciliation. In May, 1779, Mr. William Jones, 
afterwards Sir William Jones, visited Paris. Dr. Frank- 
lin had been acquainted with him in England as a 
member of the Royal Society, and an intimate friend 
of the Shipley family. Without openly avowing him- 

* The names of the persons here alluded to are denoted by blanks 
in the printed letter, and the manuscript has not been found. 

-Et.73.] life of franklin. 455 

self an authorized agent, he contrived to insinuate 
ideas, which may be presumed to have had their ori- 
gin in a higher source. He put into Dr. Franklin's 
hands an ingenious paper, which he called a Frag- 
ment of Poly bias, purporting to have been taken from 
a treatise by that historian on the Athenian govern- 
ment. It relates to a war in which Athens was en- 
gaged with the Grecian Islands, then in alliance with 
Caria. A close parallel is drawn between this pre- 
tended Grecian war and the actual war between Eng- 
land, France, and the United States. It ends with 
the plan of a treaty proposed by the Athenians, which, 
by merely changing the names of the parties, is in- 
tended to apply to the existing situation of the bel- 
ligerent powers. The performance is elaborated with 
skill, and as a composition it shows the hand of a 
master. The terms are somewhat more favorable to 
the Americans, than any that had been before sug- 
gested, but the idea of independence is not admitted. 
Dr. Franklin was ever ready to promote whatever 
could be useful to mankind. When Captain Cook's 
vessel was about to return from a voyage of discov- 
ery, he wrote a circular letter to the commanders of 
American cruisers, in his character of minister pleni- 
potentiary, requesting them, in case they should meet 
with that vessel, not. to capture it, nor suffer it to be 
detained or plundered of any thing on board, but to 
"treat the captain and his people with civility and 
kindness, affording them, as common friends of man- 
kind, all the assistance in their power." This act of 
magnanimity was properly estimated by the British 
government. After Cook's Voyage was published, a 
copy of the work was sent to him by the Board of 
Admiralty, with a letter from Lord Howe, stating that 
it was forwarded with the approbation of the King. 

456 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1779. 

One of the gold medals, struck by the Royal Society 
in honor of Captain Cook, was likewise presented to 

Acts of a similar kind were repeated in other in- 
stances. There was a settlement of Moravian mis- 
sionaries on the coast of Labrador, to which the So- 
ciety in London annually despatched a vessel laden 
with supplies. Dr. Franklin, at the request of Mr. 
Hutton, granted a passport to this vessel, which was 
renewed every year during the war. He afforded the 
same protection to a vessel, which sailed from Dublin 
with provisions and clothing for sufferers in the West 
Indies, contributed by charitable persons in that city. 

When Paul Jones came to France, after his cruise 
in the Ranger, and his fortunate action with the Drake, 
a British sloop of war, the French ministry planned 
a descent upon the coast of England by a naval ar- 
mament combined with land forces. The Marquis de 
Lafayette, who had recently returned from America, 
where he had won laurels by his bravery and good 
conduct in two campaigns, was to be at the head of 
the expedition. Paul Jones was to command the 
squadron, under the American flag, and he received 
his instructions from Dr. Franklin. The plan was. 
changed, just as it was on the point of being exe- 
cuted, in consequence of larger designs of the French 
cabinet ; but Jones sailed with his little fleet some 

* Dr. Kippis, in his " Life of Captain Cook," said, that Dr. Frank- 
lin's circular letter was disapproved by Congress, and that orders were 
sent out to seize the vessel, if an opportunity should occur. Dr. Bel- 
knap took pains to investigate the grounds of this charge, and ascer- 
tained that it was erroneous in every particular. Congress neither is- 
sued orders nor passed any resolve on the subject. The facts were 
communicated to Dr. Kippis, and he publicly acknowledged the error, 
into which he had been led by false information. See the Collections 
oftte Mass. Hist. Society, Vol. IV. pp. 79-85; V. p. 1; and the Gen- 
UemarCs Magazine for September, 1795, p. 715. 

jEt. 73.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 457 

time afterwards, met the enemy, and gained a bril- 
liant victory in the well known and desperate engage- 
ment between the Bon Homme Richard and the Sera- 
pis. The task of settling the affairs of his cruise, of 
reconciling the difficulties between him and Captain 
Landais, who was the second in command, and of 
deciding on the conflicting claims for prize money, de- 
volved on Franklin. 

Notwithstanding his laborious duties in the public 
service, he found time to bestow some attention upon 
philosophical studies; and, in the year 1779, he read 
a paper on the Aurora Borealis to the Royal Acade- 
my of Sciences at Paris, in which he professed only 
to advance Suppositions and Conjectures towards form- 
ing an hypothesis for its explanation. His ideas are 
original and curious, though his conjectures may not 
perhaps be sustained by more recent discoveries. He 
says of this paper, in a letter to Dr. Priestley ; " If it 
should occasion further inquiry, and so produce a bet- 
ter hypothesis, it will not be wholly useless." He 
seeks for the cause of this phenomenon in electricity, 
and supports his theory by plausible reasons, founded 
on such a knowledge of the science and of facts as 
then existed.* 

It was also in the course of this year, that he 
communicated to Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, of London, 
materials for a more complete collection of his miscel- 

# Sir Humphrey Davy has described, with an acute discrimination, 
the predominant characteristics of Franklin's philosophical writings. 
" A singular felicity of induction guided all his researches, and by very 
small means he established very grand truths. The style and manner 
of his publication on Electricity are almost as worthy of admiration, as 
the doctrine it contains. He has endeavoured to remove all mystery 
and obscurity from the subject. He has written equally for the unin- 
itiated and for the philosopher ; and he has rendered his details amusing 
as well as perspicuous, elegant as well as simple. Science appears in 
his language in a dress wonderfully decorous, the. best adapted to dis- 
VOL. I. 58 MM 

458 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1779. 

laneous and political writings, than had hitherto ap- 
peared. Mr. Vaughan's edition is comprised in a 
single volume, but it possesses the merit of a me- 
thodical arrangement, and of having judicious and ap- 
propriate notes, explanatory and illustrative, which he 
was enabled to render accurate and valuable by his 
correspondence with the author.* 

Doubting his powers to treat of peace, under his 
commission of plenipotentiary to France, even if an 
opportunity should offer, he recommended to Con- 
gress to appoint a minister for that purpose, and in- 
vest him with the requisite powers. The appointment 
was conferred on Mr. John Adams, soon after his re- 
turn to the United States. 

play her native loveliness. He has in no instance exhibited that false 
dignity, by which philosophy is kept aloof from common applications; 
and he has sought rather to make her a useful inmate and servant in 
the common habitations of man, than to preserve her merely as an ob- 
ject of admiration in temples and palaces." 

* The volume is entitled, " Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophi- 
cal Pieces." It was published by Johnson, in London, 1779. The ed- 
itor's name is not mentioned in the title-page. Dr. Franklin read the 
printed sheets before they were published, and, in writing to Mr. 
Vaughan on the subject, he said; "I thank you for the great care and 
pains you have taken in regulating and correcting the edition of those 
papers. Your friendship for me appears in almost every page ; and, if 
the preservation of any of them should prove of use to the public, it is 
to you that the public will owe the obligation." Under an engraved 
head of the author, at the beginning of the volume, is the following 
motto (from Horace), which was suggested by Bishop Shipley, — Non 
Sordidds Auctor Nature Verique. He also proposed another, — 
" His Country's Friend, but more of Human Kind" 

jEt. 74.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 459 


A French Army sent to the United States. — Lafayette. — Northern 
Powers of Europe combine in Defence of Neutrals. — Franklin's Opin- 
ion of Privateering. — Correspondence between Count de Vergennes 
and Mr. Adams. — Franklin's Remarks upon it. — Charges against 
Franklin by his Enemies, examined and refuted.- — New Attempt in 
Congress to procure his Recall. — Count de Vergennes's Opinion of 
him as Minister at the French Court. — The numerous Duties of his 
Office. — Colonel John Laurens. — Franklin proposes to retire from 
the Public Service. — New Propositions for Peace, through the Agen- 
cy of Mr. Hartley. — Franklin's Answer to them. — His Friends at 
Passy and Auteuil. — Madame Brillon. — Madame Helvetius. 

It had been a question much agitated both in 
France and America, since the treaty of alliance, 
whether it was advisable to send French troops to 
cooperate with the armies of the United States. The 
prudence of such an experiment was thought extreme- 
ly doubtful. While fighting the battles of the mother 
country in former wars, the Americans had often been 
brought into conflict with the French on the frontiers. 
It was feared, that prejudices had been contracted, 
and habits formed, which would prevent the troops 
of the two nations from acting together in harmony, 
even if the people themselves could be reconciled to 
the presence of a French army. All aids from France, 
it was said, would be the most effectually rendered in 
money and by a naval force. Such was likewise the 
view taken by the French cabinet, and they acted 
upon this plan for two years. But many persons in 
the United States thought differently. They saw no 
reason, in the common principles of human nature, 
why a people should sacrifice their interests, and put 
their freedom in jeopardy, by giving themselves up to 
an inherited prejudice. 

460 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1780. 

A conviction of the justness of this sentiment was 
deeply wrought into the mind of Lafayette. He had 
been a year and a half in the country, and, from the 
manner in which he and other French officers were 
treated by all classes of people, he was satisfied, that 
there would be no hazard in bringing an army of 
Frenchmen to cooperate with American soldiers. He 
conversed frequently with General Washington on the 
subject, and, although the opinion of the latter is no- 
where explicitly recorded, it is certain that Lafayette 
returned to France fully convinced, that such a meas- 
ure would meet his approbation. He applied to the 
ministers accordingly ; who hesitated for some time, 
influenced by the same motives of prudence, which 
had hitherto«guided their counsels. But Lafayette per- 
severed, and his zeal and the force of his arguments 
at last prevailed. In the early part of the year 1780, 
preparations were made for sending an army under 
Count de Rochambeau to America, with a fleet com- 
manded by the Chevalier de Ternay. 

In all these transactions he was assisted by the ad- 
vice and cordial support of Dr. Franklin. They also 
procured large supplies of arms, equipments, and cloth- 
ing for the American army. As the bearer of the 
good news, Lafayette sailed for the United States, 
authorized to concert measures with Washington and 
Congress for the reception and future employment of 
the French troops. 

The northern powers of Europe, at the instance of 
Russia, had recently come into an arrangement re- 
specting neutrals, which Dr. Franklin so highly ap- 
proved, that he issued orders to the American cruis- 
ers in conformity with it, even before he ascertained 
the views of Congress. By the practice of nations 
in time of war, it had been a rule to seize the prop- 

JEt. 74.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 461 

erty of an enemy wherever found at sea ; and neutral 
vessels having such property on board were captured 
under this rule, the cargo being confiscated as a 
prize to the captors, and the vessel being restored 
to the owners. This rule was reversed by the com- 
bined powers, and the law was established, that goods 
belonging to an enemy on board a neutral vessel, ex- 
cept such as were contraband, should not be subject 
to capture, or, in other words, that free ships should 
make free goods. A law so clearly founded in justice 
and humanity could not but receive his hearty con- 
currence. In his opinion, the application of the law 
ought to be extended still further, so as to mitigate 
the evils of war as much as possible, by leaving indi- 
viduals to pursue their occupations unmolested. 

"I approve much of the principles of the confeder- 
acy of the neutral powers," said he, "and am not 
only for respecting the ships as the house of a friend, 
though containing the goods of an enemy, but I even 
wish, for the sake of humanity, that the law of na- 
tions may be further improved, by determining, that, 
even in time of war, all those kinds of people, who 
are employed in procuring subsistence for the spe- 
cies, or in exchanging the necessaries or conveniences 
of life, which are for the common benefit of man- 
kind, such as husbandmen on their lands, fishermen 
in their barques, and traders in unarmed vessels, shall 
be permitted to prosecute their several innocent and 
useful employments without interruption or molesta- 
tion, and nothing taken from them, even when want- 
ed by an enemy, but on paying a fair price for the 

Privateering he called "robbing," and "a remnant 
of the ancient piracy." In an able paper on this 
practice, he shows its inhumanity, and condemns it 


462 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1780. 

as violating the code of morality, which ought to be 
sacredly observed by every civilized nation. "It be- 
hoves merchants to consider well of the justice of a 
war," he remarks, "before they voluntarily engage a 
gang of ruffians to attack their fellow merchants of a 
neighbouring nation, to plunder them of their property, 
and perhaps ruin them and their families, if they yield 
it; or to wound, maim, or murder them, if they en- 
deavour to defend it. Yet these things are done by 
Christian merchants, whether a war be just or unjust ; 
and it can hardly be just on both sides. They are 
done by English and American merchants, who, never- 
theless, complain of private theft, and hang by dozens 
the thieves they have taught by their own example." 
He proposed, that, in treaties between nations, an ar- 
ticle should be introduced, by which the contracting 
parties should bind themselves not to grant commis- 
sions to private armed vessels ; and he was instrumen- 
tal in forming such a treaty between Prussia and the 
United States. In fact, he was an enemy to war in 
all its forms and disguises. It was a maxim with him, 
that there never was a good war, or a bad peace. 

Mr. Adams had been but a short time in Paris, as 
minister for negotiating peace, when intelligence ar- 
rived of a resolve of Congress, by which the Conti- 
nental paper money was to be redeemed at the rate 
of forty paper dollars for one of silver. The resolve 
being of a general nature, it was not obvious wheth- 
er it was intended to apply to Americans only, or 
whether foreigners were to be included. The French 
court were concerned to ascertain this point, and 
Count de Vergennes wrote for information to Mr. 
Adams, who, having recently come from America, he 
supposed might be able to explain the intentions of 
Congress. Mr. Adams replied, that he could not tell 

Mt. 74] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 463 

how far the resolve was meant to extend, but ex- 
pressed his decided conviction, that it ought to in- 
clude foreigners, as much as Americans, and support- 
ed his opinion by ingenious and cogent arguments. 
Count de Vergennes expressed surprise, that this view 
of the subject should be taken. The French mer- 
chants had shipped various commodities to the United 
States, relying on the good faith of Congress in re- 
gard to their currency ; and he said it would be an 
act of injustice to compel these merchants to suffer 
by an arbitrary depreciation, which they had no rea- 
son to expect at the time of shipping their goods. 
A few weeks later, the correspondence was renewed 
on other subjects connected with the alliance and the 
relations between the two countries; and Mr. Adams, 
in his zeal for a cause which no man had more at 
heart, advanced sentiments and spoke with a freedom, 
which were displeasing to Count de Vergennes, who 
sent a copy of the correspondence to Dr. Franklin, 
and requested him to transmit it to Congress. He 
did so, and at the same time wrote as follows to the 

"Mr. Adams thinks, as he tells me himself, that 
America has been too free in expressions of gratitude 
to France; for that she is more obliged to us than 
we to her; and that we should show spirit in our 
applications. I apprehend, that he mistakes his ground, 
and that this court is to be treated with decency and 
delicacy. The King, a young and virtuous prince, 
has, I am persuaded, a pleasure in reflecting on the 
generous benevolence of the action in assisting an op- 
pressed people, and proposes it as a part of the glory 
of his reign. I think it right to increase this pleasure 
by our thankful acknowledgments, and that such an 
expression of gratitude is not only our duty, but our 

464 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1780. 

interest. A different conduct seems to me what is 
not only improper and unbecoming, but what may be 
hurtful to us. Mr. Adams, on the other hand, who, 
at the same time, means our welfare and interest as 
much as I, or any man, can do, seems to think a 
little apparent stoutness, and a greater air of indepen- 
dence and boldness in our demands, will procure us 
more ample assistance. It is for Congress to judge, 
and regulate their affairs accordingly." 

It was one of the charges of Dr. Franklin's ene- 
mies against him, that he was compliant to the French 
court. The nature of this compliance, such as it was 
in reality, is seen in the above extract. It consisted 
in showing a proper sense of gratitude for benefits 
received, and in endeavouring to please those, from 
whom, in his public character, he was constantly ask- 
ing favors for his country. He thought this right in 
itself, and it was certainly politic. The consequence 
was, that he acquired and retained the confidence of 
the French King and ministry ; they listened to his 
applications and were often influenced by his coun- 
sels ; and he rarely made a request, w T hich was not 
granted, although the wants of Congress, particularly 
in the article of money, rendered frequent applications 
necessary. Just before the peace he had occasion to 
say, that Count de Vergennes never made him a 
promise, which he did not fulfil ; and it is a fact wor- 
thy of being remembered, as bearing on this subject, 
that not one of the vast number of drafts, which were 
drawn on him by Congress throughout the war, was 
allowed to be protested, or to pass the time of pay- 
ment, although he relied almost exclusively on the 
French government for funds to meet them. Shortly 
after Mr. Jay was appointed minister to Spain and 
*Mr. Adams to Holland, drafts to a large amount were 

jEt. 74.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 465 

drawn on them, with the expectation that they would 
be able to procure loans in those countries ; but no 
money was obtained, and the drafts all came upon 
Dr. Franklin. He found the means of paying them 
by applying, as usual, to the French court ; but he 
was told, at the same time, that this unexpected de- 
mand subjected the King to much inconvenience. 

By this course of conduct, asking only what was 
reasonable, w 7 ith a becoming deference to the judg- 
ment, and reliance on the good intentions, of the min- 
isters, he won a reciprocal confidence, and was en- 
abled to execute the arduous and complicated duties 
of his station with entire success. His adversaries 
called it subserviency, and represented him as carried 
away by the adulation of the French people, so as 
not only to forget what was due to his owm charac- 
ter, but to lose his attachment to his country. It was 
said, that the French ministers cajoled him, with the 
sinister design of moulding him to their purposes, and 
of effecting some deep scheme of policy to deceive 
and overreach their allies. These absurdities, unsus- 
tained as they are by a word of credible testimony, 
would not deserve to be repeated, if they had not 
been used at the time to injure his reputation, and 
give currency to an unmerited distrust of the French 

They led to a new attempt in Congress to procure 
his recall. M. de la Luzerne, the French minister in 
the United States, writes thus to Count de Ver- 
gennes, in a letter dated at Philadelphia, December 
15th, 1780. "Congress is filled with intrigues and 
cabals respecting the recall of Dr. Franklin, which the 
delegates from Massachusetts insist on by all sorts of 
means. That minister has very little direct support 
in Congress ; but the fear entertained by both parties, 

vol. i. 59 

466 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1780. 

that his place would be supplied by one of the op- 
posite party, has served to sustain him. The States 
of Massachusetts and South Carolina, and a few in- 
dividual voices, influenced by Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard, 
have declared, in a positive manner, that there is no 
person who is not preferable to the present minister; 
and they urge, that, by his supineness and the influ- 
ence of those around him, the American cause has 
been ruined in France." 

Two months after the date of this letter, Count de 
Vergennes replied. " If you are questioned respecting 
our opinion of Dr. Franklin, you may say, without 
hesitation, that we esteem him as much for his patri- 
otism, as for the wisdom of his conduct ; and it has 
been owing in a great part to this cause, and to the 
confidence which we put in the veracity of Dr. Frank- 
lin, that we have determined to relieve the pecuniary 
embarrassments, in which he has been placed by Con- 
gress. One may judge from this fact, which is of a 
personal nature, whether his conduct has been injuri- 
ous to the interests of his country, and whether any 
other minister would have had the same advantages. 
But, although we esteem Dr. Franklin, and hold him 
in high consideration, yet we are not the less obliged 
to confess, that, on account of his great age and love 
of tranquillity, he is less active than is compatible with 
the affairs with which he is charged, and that we see 
this with the more concern, since it is upon matters 
of importance that he preserves silence, whilst the 
good of the service requires, that he should transmit 
his sentiments to Congress. We are of opinion, how- 
ever, that his recall would be very inconvenient in the 
present state of things, and it would be the more dis- 
agreeable to us, inasmuch as he would perhaps be 
succeeded by a character unquiet, exacting, difficult, 

Mt. 74.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 467 

and less ardently attached to the cause of his coun- 
try. Congress might relieve themselves from the em- 
barrassment of a new choice, by giving Dr. Franklin 
a secretary of legation, wise, discreet, well informed, 
and capable of supplying his place." 

We here see in what light the French government 
regarded Dr. Franklin, as minister to that court, and 
we have no indication of any wish to retain him in 
that post, on account of his being compliant to their 
wishes. In addition to the natural infirmities of age, 
he was afflicted by two severe maladies, the gout and 
the stone, which sometimes confined him to his house 
for weeks together, and disabled him from bodily or 
mental exertion. Yet Congress never sent him a sec- 
retary, and he was obliged to discharge all the duties 
of his office alone, or with such assistance as could be 
rendered by his grandson. This is the more singular, 
as both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jay were accompanied 
by secretaries of legation chosen by Congress, men 
of character and talents, accustomed to business, and 
acquainted with the details of public affairs. 

He was, moreover, burdened with the concerns of 
the American public vessels, which came into French 
ports, and these gave him infinite trouble. "My time 
is more taken up with matters extraneous to the func- 
tions of a minister," said he, in a letter to Mr. Jay, 
" than you can possibly imagine. I have written often 
to Congress to establish consuls in the ports, and ease 
me of what relates to maritime and mercantile affairs ; 
but no notice has yet been taken of my request." 
Nor was any consul appointed till near the end of 
the war. It must be inferred, at least, that Congress 
did not distrust his ability to perform the important 
services appertaining to his station, notwithstanding the 
machinations that were constantly at work to have him 

468 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1781. 

removed. And, indeed, the resources and vigor of 
his mind nowhere appear to greater advantage, than 
in his correspondence during this period. Count de 
Vergennes was not well satisfied, that he did not 
write oftener and more fully with respect to the state 
of things in France, and thus discourage Congress 
from making such repeated and importunate demands 
for aids ; but Franklin knew that the French minis- 
ter in Philadelphia was perfectly informed of all these 
particulars, and represented them to Congress when- 
ever occasion required. 

The loans from the French government had amount- 
ed to about three millions of livres annually. For the 
year 1781, Dr. Franklin obtained a loan of four mil- 
lions, besides a subsidy of six millions, which the 
minister told him was intended as a free gift to the 
United States. After these sums were granted, Colo- 
nel John Laurens arrived in France, commissioned by 
Congress to represent the extreme wants of the army, 
and to solicit further aids both in money and military 
supplies. Dr. Franklin joined heartily with Colonel 
Laurens in urging this application, and it met with 
some success. More direct aids could not be furnish- 
ed ; but, to facilitate a loan on American account in 
Holland, the King of France agreed to guaranty the 
payment of the interest of such a loan not exceeding 
ten millions of livres. 

At this time Dr. Franklin proposed to retire from 
the public service, and requested that some other per- 
son might be appointed to supply his place. His rea- 
sons are given in the following extract from a letter to 
the President of Congress. 

"I must now beg leave to say something relating 
to myself; a subject with which I have not often 
troubled the Congress. I have passed my seventy- 

jEt. 75.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 469 

fifth year, and I find, that the long and severe fit of 
the gout, which I had the last winter, has shaken me 
exceedingly, and I am yet far from having recovered 
the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do not know 
that my mental faculties are impaired ; perhaps I shall 
be the last to discover that ; but I am sensible of 
great diminution in my activity, a quality I think par- 
ticularly necessary in your minister for this court. I 
am afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time 
or other suffer by my deficiency. I find, also, that 
the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. 
The constant attendance at home, which is necessary 
for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange (a 
matter foreign to my ministerial functions), to answer 
letters, and perform other parts of my employment, 
prevents my taking the air and exercise, which my 
annual journeys formerly used to afford me, and which 
contributed much to the preservation of *my health. 
There are many other little personal attentions, which 
the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man's 
comfort, even in some degree to the continuance of 
his existence, and with which business often interferes. 
"I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoy- 
ed public confidence, in some shape or other, during 
the long term of fifty years, and honor sufficient to 
satisfy any reasonable ambition ; and I have no other 
left but that of repose, which I hope the Congress 
will grant me, by sending some person to supply my 
place. At the same time, I beg they may be assured, 
that it is not any the least doubt of their success in 
the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their 
service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and 
simply the reasons above mentioned. And, as I can- 
not at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage 
(the last having been almost too much for me), and 

VOL. I. No. 10. NN 

470 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1781 

would not again expose myself to the hazard of cap- 
ture and imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose 
to remain here at least till the peace ; perhaps it may 
be for the remainder of my life ; and, if any knowl- 
edge or experience I have acquired here may be 
thought of use to my successor, I shall freely com- 
municate it, and assist him with any influence I may 
be supposed to have, or counsel that may be de- 
sired of me." 

Congress declined accepting his resignation, and, 
nearly at the same time* enlarging their commission for 
negotiating a treaty of peace, by joining with Mr. 
Adams four other commissioners, they appointed Dr. 
Franklin to be one of the number. This new mark 
of confidence, especially after he had asked, as a favor, 
to be relieved from his public charge, was a sufficient 
rebuke to his enemies, and left them little cause to 
be satisfied with the success of their schemes. He 
acquiesced in the decision of Congress. " It was my 
desire," said he, "to quit public business, fearing it 
might suffer in my hands through the infirmities inci- 
dent to my time of life ; but, as they are pleased to 
think I may still be useful, I submit to their judg- 
ment, and shall do my best." 

His friend, Mr. Hartley, continued to write to him 
on the terms of peace, taking advantage of the cor- 
respondence, which, with the knowledge of the Brit- 
ish ministry, was kept up between them concerning 
the American prisoners in England. It is evident, 
also, from the tenor of Mr. Hartley's letters, that his 
propositions were seen and approved by Lord North. 
His first aim, and the point which he labored with 
the greatest diligence, was to divide the United States 
from France, and to bring about a separate treaty 
with the former. This design was so inconsistent 

Mr.75.] life of franklin. 471 

with the nature and express stipulations of the alli- 
ance, which were well known, that Dr. Franklin could 
not forbear to retort upon his friend with warmth and 
some degree of asperity. Mr. Hartley spoke of the 
alliance as a stumblingblock, which must be removed 
before a treaty could be entered upon, and he sug- 
gested that it might be dissolved, at least by the con- 
sent of the parties. Dr. Franklin replied ; 

" The long, steady, and kind regard you have shown 
for the welfare of America, by the whole tenor of 
your conduct in Parliament, satisfies me, that this prop- 
osition never took its rise with you, but has been 
suggested from some other quarter ; and that your ex- 
cess of humanity, your love of peace, and your fear 
for us, that the destruction we are threatened with 
will certainly be effected, have thrown a mist before 
your eyes, which hindered you from seeing the ma- 
lignity and mischief of it." "Nor does there appear 
any more necessity for dissolving an alliance with 
France, before you can treat with us, than there would 
of dissolving your alliance with Holland, or your union 
with Scotland, before we could treat with you. Ours 
is, therefore, no material obstacle to a treaty, as you 
suppose it to be. Had Lord North been the author 
of such a proposition, all the world would have said 
it was insidious, and meant only to deceive and di- 
vide us from our friends, and then to ruin us ; sup- 
posing our fears might be so strong as to procure an 
acceptance of it." Again, alluding to the article in the 
alliance, by which both parties agree to continue the 
war in conjunction, and not to make a separate peace, 
he said ; " It is an obligation not in the power of 
America to dissolve, being an obligation of gratitude 
and justice towards a nation, which is engaged in a 
war on her account and for her protection ; and would 

472 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1781. 

be for ever binding, whether such an article existed 
or not in the treaty ; and, though it did not exist, an 
honest American would cut off his right hand, rather 
than sign an agreement with England contrary to the 
spirit of it." 

Mr. Hartley's next proposition, which had likewise 
been shown to Lord North, was for a truce of ten 
years, during which America was not to assist France, 
yet England, if she saw fit, was to carry on the war 
against her; "a truce," said Franklin, "wherein noth- 
ing is to be mentioned, that may weaken your pre- 
tensions to dominion over us, which you may there- 
fore resume at the end of the term, or at pleasure ; 
when we should have so covered ourselves with in- 
famy, by our treachery to our first friend, as that no 
other nation could ever after be disposed to assist us, 
however cruelly you might think fit to treat us. Be- 
lieve me, my dear friend, America has too much un- 
derstanding, and is too sensible of the value of the 
world's good opinion, to forfeit it all by such perfidy." 

This project of dividing the United States from their 
ally was industriously pursued by the British cabinet. 
Without doubt, it was an object worth striving for. 
The advances were not confined to one side. Tempt- 
ing offers were held out to France, as an inducement 
to draw her into a separate treaty. But the King 
and his ministers were as true to their engagements 
as Franklin; and they steadily affirmed, that no prop- 
ositions would be listened to, either for a peace or 
truce, which should not have for their basis the in- 
dependence and sovereignty of the United States. 

Besides his numerous acquaintances in the great 
world of Paris, Dr. Franklin found friends, whose so- 
ciety he valued, among his neighbours at Passy. They 
vied with each other in bestowing upon him their ci- 

Mt.75.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 473 

vilities and kindness. He was almost domesticated in 
the family of M. Brillon, where he was entertained 
rather as one of the family than as a visiter, and where 
the charm of an affectionate welcome was heightened 
by the frankness, refinement, and intelligence of those 
from whom it was received. The house of Madame 
Helvetius, at Auteuil, was another of his favorite resorts. 
This lady, then advanced in years, had associated, in 
the lifetime of her husband, with the first wits and 
most eminent men of the day. In these, families 
he constantly met the Abbe Morellet, the Abbe La 
Roche, Cabanis, Le Roy, Le Veillard, and La Ro- 
chefoucauld. Some of his most popular essays were 
composed for the amusement of this little circle at 
Passy and Auteuil. The Ephemera, and the Whistle, 
were addressed to Madame Brillon, whom, in his 
playful mood, he used to call " the amiable Brillante" 
The Dialogue with the Gout, and several other humor- 
ous pieces, were written at the same time and for 
the same object. He classed them all under the title 
of Bagatelles, ■ They served as a relief from his weigh- 
ty cares, and contributed to the enjoyment of those 
around him. The friendships, formed by this social 
intercourse, were not transient ; they were kept fresh 
after his return to America, by a correspondence, which 
continued as long as he lived. 

VOL. I. 60 NN 


474 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1783. 


Negotiations for Peace. — Debates on the Subject in the British Parlia- 
ment. — Change of Ministry. — Mr. Oswald sent to Paris to consult 
Dr. Franklin on the Mode of Negotiating. — Grenville's Commission ; 
disapproved by Franklin. — Mr. Fox's Views of Independence. — 
Lord Shelburne's Administration. — ; Mr. Fitzherbert. — Mr. Oswald 
commissioned to negotiate the American Treaty. — Essential Arti- 
cles of the Treaty proposed by Franklin. — Advisable Articles. — 
Mr. Jay disapproves Mr. Oswald's Commission. — An Alteration 
required and obtained. — Progress of the Treaty. — Independence, 
Boundaries, Fisheries. — Attempts of the British Ministry to secure 
the Indemnification of the Loyalists. — Mr. Adams joins his Colleagues 
and resists the British Claims. — Franklin proposes an Article for In- 
demnifying the Americans for their Losses during the War. — Brit- 
ish Claims relinquished. — Treaty signed. — Ratified by Congress. 

Early in the year 1782, the subject of peace be- 
gan to occupy the attention of the British Parliament. 
The capture of Lord Cornwallis's army at Yorktown, 
the inability of the ministers to supply the place of these 
troops for another campaign, the fact that Holland had 
recently joined the belligerents against England, the 
enormous expenses of the war; all these things had 
contributed to open the eyes of the people, and to 
raise a general clamor for peace. The tone of the 
King's speech to Parliament, which convened soon after 
the intelligence of Cornwallis's defeat reached England, 
was somewhat more subdued than it had been before ; 
yet such was the force of habit in wording the royal 
speeches, that even now, when the Americans had 
nobly sustained themselves as an independent nation 
for more than five years, captured two British armies, 
and taken away the last hope from their enemies of 
conquering them, the King could not refrain from talk- 
ing of his rebellious and deluded subjects; although 
he did not, as on former occasions, boast of his prow- 

jEt.76.] life of franklin. 475 

ess, and of the ample means of subjugation, which he 
had at command. 

It was soon discovered in Parliament, that the pub- 
lic sentiment had communicated itself to that body, 
and that the overwhelming majority, which had sus- 
tained the ministers through the war, was greatly re- 
duced, if not annihilated. The matter was brought to 
a trial by a motion of General Conway, that an ad- 
dress should be presented to his Majesty, praying 
that the war in America might cease, and that meas- 
ures should be taken for restoring tranquillity and a 
reconciliation. The motion gave rise to a debate, 
which was animated on both sides, and it was final- 
ly lost by a majority of one only in favor of the min- 
isters, and for continuing the war. 

This vote was the signal for a dissolution of the 
ministry. Lord North resigned, and there was a total 
change of ministry and measures. The new adminis- 
tration was formed in March. The Marquis of Rock- 
ingham was prime minister; the Earl of Shelburne 
and Mr. Fox, the two principal secretaries of state. 
This ministry came into power, as Mr. Fox more than 
once declared in Parliament, with the express under- 
standing, that the fundamental principle of their meas- 
ures was to be "the granting of unequivocal and un- 
conditional independence to America." For some time 
they seemed to act on this principle. The two sec- 
retaries corresponded directly with Dr. Franklin on 
the subject of peace, and they sent Mr. Richard Os- 
wald over to Paris early in April, with authority to 
consult him on the mode of beginning and pursuing 
a negotiation. Mr. Thomas Grenville was likewise 
sent to confer with Count de Vergennes in reference 
to the preliminaries for a general peace between all 
the powers at war. Nothing more could be done till 

476 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

Parliament should pass an act enabling the King to 
enter into a formal negotiation. 

As to the mode of conducting the negotiations, 
Dr. Franklin said he thought it would be best for the 
British negotiators to appear under separate commis- 
sions,' one for the American treaty, and another for 
those of the European powers, since the topics to be 
discussed were entirely distinct ; and, as this mode 
would have greater simplicity, the object might be the 
sooner and more easily attained. The British minis- 
try approved and adopted this suggestion, and their 
envoys were accordingly furnished with separate com- 

Both Mr. Grenville and Mr. Oswald, at their sev- 
eral interviews, assured Count de Vergennes and Dr. 
Franklin, that the point of independence had been 
conceded, and that it was to be granted in the first 
instance, before the treaty was begun. It was agreed 
between the British and French cabinets, that the 
negotiations should take place at Paris. Mr. Gren- 
ville remained there. Mr. Oswald went back to Lon- 
don, but returned in a few days. In the mean time 
Mr. Grenville received a commission, which he un- 
derstood to authorize him to treat with France and 
America; but there was not a word in it about any 
other power than France. When this defect was 
pointed out to Mr. Grenville, he said, that, though 
his commission was silent in regard to America, yet 
his instructions gave him ample powers. Dr. Frank- 
lin was not satisfied with this explanation, and he said 
that the commission must be put in a proper form 
for treating with the United States, or no treaty could 
be held. Finding him firm in this decision, Mr. Gren- 
ville despatched an express to London with the com- 
mission, which came back so altered as to authorize 

Mr. 76.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 477 


him to treat " with France, or any other Prince or 
State" This form was no more satisfactory than the 
other. On perusing it, Dr. Franklin told Mr. Gren- 
ville, that " he did not think it could be fairly sup- 
posed, that his court meant, by the general words any 
other State, to include a people whom they did not 
allow to be a State;" and he refused to consider 
Mr. Grenville as empowered to act in the American 
treaty under this commission. 

After what had been said and repeated, by Mr. 
Oswald and Mr. Grenville, of the readiness of the 
British government to enter into a treaty on reason- 
able terms, this kind of shuffling displeased both Dr. 
Franklin and Count de Vergennes. They began to 
suspect it to be an artifice to gain time, and that 
some recent successes in the West Indies had en- 
couraged the court of St. James to prosecute the 
war, or, at least, to put off the treaty, with the hope 
of securing more favorable terms in consequence of 
these successes. There were, perhaps, some grounds 
for these suspicions, though the main difficulty arose, 
as soon appeared, from another cause. News arrived 
of the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, the dis- 
solution of the British cabinet, and the formation of a 
new one. This happened in July, the Rockingham 
administration having existed only two months and a 
half. The Earl of Shelburne was raised to the sta- 
tion of prime minister ; Mr. Fox retired, and the prin- 
cipal secretaries of State were Earl Grantham and 
Mr. Townshend. 

Mr. Fox declared in Parliament, that he had left 
the cabinet wholly on the ground of American inde- 
pendence ; that he had supposed this w T as to be grant- 
ed in the first instance, and unconditionally ; that he 
felt himself pledged to support this measure; that he 

478 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 


found other counsels prevailing in the cabinet; and 
that, consequently, his only course was to retire. It 
was known, also, that Lord Shelburne, though friend- 
ly to the colonies and opposed to the war, had often 
declared himself against independence ; but, the new 
administration having come into power on the basis 
of peace, it was supposed that he had changed his 
mind in this particular. His friends in Parliament in- 
sisted that he had done so, notwithstanding Mr. Fox's 
explanation implying the contrary. It is moreover to 
be observed, that there were political and personal dif- 
ferences, of long standing, between Lord Shelburne 
and Mr. Fox, which prevented their acting together 
in harmony, and that they had not agreed with re- 
spect to the negotiations, which had been begun. 

The new ministry being formed, however, under 
Lord Shelburne, he managed the peace in his own 
way ; and it turned out, that Mr. Fox was right in 
saying, that the recognition of independence in the 
first instance was not a measure, which this minister 
had sought to promote, although the commissioners 
in Paris had been officially authorized to make this 
declaration to Dr. Franklin. After the Marquis of 
Rockingham's death, there was evidently an intention 
in the cabinet to establish the peace on a different 
basis, and to grant independence for an equivalent, to 
be rendered by the United States, either in commer- 
cial privileges or a cession of territory. 

In this state of affairs, Mr. Grenville, who had been 
appointed by the influence of Mr. Fox, was recalled 
from Paris, and his place was supplied by Mr. Fitzher- 
bert, properly commissioned to negotiate with France, 
Spain, and Holland. The American treaty was left 
in the hands of Mr. Oswald. As yet, neither Mr. 
Adams nor Mr. Jay, who were associated with Dr. 

^Et. 76.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 479 

Franklin in the commission for peace, had arrived in 
Paris, the former being employed in Holland, and the 
latter in Spain ; but Mr. Jay joined him soon after- 
wards. Mr. Laurens, the other commissioner, was in 
England, having recently been discharged from his im- 
prisonment in the Tower, in exchange for Lord Corn- 
wallis. He took no part in the treaty till just at its 

Mr. Oswald received his instructions from Lord Shel- 
burne, and was told that his commission would speed- 
ily follow. He had held many conversations with Dr. 
Franklin at various times during three months, in which 
all the fundamental articles of a treaty had been more 
or less canvassed. He now renewed these conversa- 
tions with the direct aim of proceeding in tie negoti- 
ation. At length Dr. Franklin read to him a paper, 
containing what he conceived to be the elements of 
a treaty, adding at the same time, that he could do 
nothing definitively without the concurrence of his col- 
leagues. His suggestions comprised two classes of 
articles, the first of which he represented as necessary, 
and the second as advisable for England to offer, if 
she desired a complete reconciliation and a lasting 
peace. The substance of them is here presented in 
the language in which they were reported by Mr. Os- 
wald to Lord Shelburne. 

"The articles, necessary to be granted, were, First, 
independence, full and complete in every sense, to the 
Thirteen States ; and all troops to be withdrawn from 
there. Secondly, a settlement of the boundaries of 
their colonies and the loyal colonies. Thirdly, a con- 
finement of the boundaries of Canada;* at least to 
what they were before the last act of Parliament, in 
1774, if not to a still more contracted state, on an 
ancient footing. Fourthly, a freedom of fishing on 

480 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

the Banks of Newfoundland and elsewhere, as well 
for fish as whales. 

" The advisable articles, or such as he would, as a 
friend, recommend to be offered by England, were, 
First, to indemnify many people, who had been ru- 
ined by towns burnt and destroyed. The whole might 
not exceed five or six hundred thousand pounds. I 
was struck at this. However, the Doctor said, though 
it was a large sum, yet it would not be ill bestowed, 
as it would conciliate the resentment of a multitude 
of poor sufferers, who could have no other remedy, 
and who, without some relief, would keep up a spirit 
of revenge and animosity for a long time to come 
against Great Britain ; whereas a voluntary offer of 
such reparation w T ould diffuse a universal calm and 
conciliation over the whole country. Secondly, some 
kind of acknowledgment, in some public act of Par- 
liament or otherwise, of our error in distressing those 
countries so much as we had done. A few words 
of that kind, the Doctor said, would do more good 
than people could imagine. Thirdly, colony ships and 
trade to be received, and have the same privileges 
in Britain and Ireland, as British ships and trade; 
British and Irish ships in the colonies to be in like 
manner on the same footing with their own ships. 
Fourthly, giving up every part of Canada." 

These terms were sent over to the ministry, and 
Mr. Oswald was authorized to treat, by assuming the 
articles, here mentioned as necessary, for the basis of 
his negotiation. It hence appears, that, at the outset, 
Dr. Franklin not only insisted on the fisheries as ne- 
cessary to oe granted, but the British ministers de- 
cided to yield them, although they afterwards strug- 
gled hard to have this decision reversed. 

Dr. Franklin was extremely desirous to procure the 

^Et.76.] life of franklin. 481 

accession of Canada; he said, there could be no solid 
and permanent peace without it ; that it would cost 
the British government more to keep it, than it was 
worth ; it would be a source of future difficulties with 
the United States, and some day or other it must be- 
long to them ; and it was for the interest of both par- 
ties, that it should be ceded in the treaty of peace. 
Yet he did not think proper to urge such a cession 
as a necessary condition of peace, especially since 
Congress had forborne to instruct the commissioners 
on this subject, and since there was no claim on 
France, by the treaty of alliance, to sustain such a 
demand, as the pledge in that treaty was only to in- 
sure the independence of the old Thirteen Colonies, 
and Canada was not one of these. Mr. Oswald, in 
his conversations with Dr. Franklin, gave it as his 
opinion, that Canada should be given up to the United 
States, and said, that, when he mentioned it to the 
ministers, though they spoke cautiously, they did not 
express themselves as decidedly opposed to the meas- 
ure. It was not pressed, however, by the American 
commissioners, and it would seem not to have been 
much dwelt upon in the subsequent progress of the 

At this stage of the business, Dr. Franklin was 
taken ill, and was confined for several weeks to his 
house. The negotiation was chiefly carried on by Mr. 
Oswald and Mr. Jay, though Dr. Franklin was con- 
sulted when occasion required it. Mr. Oswald at 
length produced his commission. It was first perused 
by Mr. Jay, who was so little pleased with it, that 
he refused to proceed with the treaty unless it should 
be altered. As it stood, Mr. Oswald was authorized 
to conclude a treaty "with commissioners named, or 
to be named, by the colonies or plantations in Amer- 

VOL. I 61 

482 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

ica," or any assembly, body, or description of men. 
Nothing was said of the United States as an inde- 
pendent power, nor could it be inferred, that their in- 
dependence was to be recognised in a formal manner. 
Mr. Oswald appealed to his instructions on this head, 
and showed one of the articles, by which indepen- 
dence was to be granted in the treaty. Mr. Jay still 
insisted that this was not enough ; that independence 
must be acknowledged in the first instance, and that 
the commission must be .worded accordingly. 

The form of Mr. Oswald's commission was faulty 
in two respects ; first, the American commissioners did 
not represent colonies, but an independent nation ; 
secondly, Mr. Oswald was empowered to negotiate 
with assemblies, or individuals of any description, which, 
to say the least, was unusual, and not respectful to 
the United States. Dr. Franklin was consulted, and 
he agreed with Mr. Jay, that the commission was ob- 
jectionable in its form, but he had some doubts wheth- 
er it was best to endanger the treaty by insisting too 
much on forms, especially as it was evident, that in- 
dependence was to be granted, as well as all the 
other principal demands of the United States. In the 
present condition of affairs in England, there was a 
prospect of another change of ministry ; and, if this 
should take place, it was extremely doubtful whether 
peace could be obtained on any reasonable terms, and 
whether the war would not be renewed. Mr. Jay saw 
the matter in a different light ; he looked upon the 
form as a thing of more importance ; and he labored 
the point for some time with Mr. Oswald, and with 
so much pertinacity as to gain a partial success. 

As to a previous acknowledgment of independence, 
Mr. Jay said it ought to be declared by an act of Par- 
liament. But Parliament was not now in session, and 

jEt. 76.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 483 

would not convene for some months. He next sug- 
gested, that the King should do it by proclamation. 
Mr. Oswald replied, that the Enabling Act, which em- 
powered the King to make peace, did not authorize 
him to issue such a proclamation; and, when Parlia- 
ment should meet, they might destroy its effect, and 
perhaps throw every thing into confusion and defeat 
the treaty. When he complained to Dr. Franklin of 
Mr. Jay's inflexibility, and of its tendency to over- 
throw all that had been done, and take away all hope 
of continuing the negotiation, Franklin answered, "Mr. 
Jay is a lawyer, and may think of things that do not 
occur to those who are not lawyers." Mr. Jay finally 
gave up this point, and said, that, "if Dr. Franklin 
would consent, he was willing, in place of an express 
and previous acknowledgment of independence, to ac- 
cept of a constructive denomination of character, to 
be introduced in the preamble of the treaty, by only 
describing their constituents as the Thirteen United 
States of America." Dr. Franklin agreed to this pro- 

- posal, and the more readily, as Mr. Adams had some 
time before written to him from Holland as follows. 
" In a former letter I hinted, that I thought an ex- 
press acknowledgment of independence might now be 
insisted on ; but I did not mean, that we should in- 
sist upon such an article in the treaty. If they make 
a treaty of peace with the United States of America, 
this is acknowledgment enough for me." 

The commission was accordingly sent back to Lon- 
don, and altered apparently without hesitation or ob- 

t jection. Instead of the original form, it was so word- 
ed, that Mr. Oswald was empowered to treat "with 
any commissioners or persons, vested with equal pow- 
ers by and on the part of the Thirteen United States 
of America." After all, the previous acknowledgment 

484 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

was not obtained. Independence made the first arti- 
cle of the treaty. But this was a small matter in it- 
self; a thing of form and not of substance. 

These preliminary skirmishes occupied three months 
from the time the discussions first commenced be- 
tween Dr. Franklin and Mr. Oswald. The negotia- 
tors were now ready to enter upon the solid part 
of their work. Independence, the boundaries, and the 
fisheries, were the three great points to be arranged. 
The first was settled at once, in the manner already 
described. The boundary question was more complex ; 
it led to long discussions, to the examining of maps and 
ancient documents, and to such ingenious arguments 
and counter-arguments as diplomatists know how to 
use. It was finally adjusted to the satisfaction of the 

The right to catch fish in the ocean, at such a 
distance from the coast as not to interfere with the 
jurisdiction over any territory, is given by nature to 
all mankind, and is recognised by the laws of nations, 
although it is sometimes encroached upon by the usur- 
pation of maritime powers. This right had been ex- 
ercised by the Americans along their own coast, from 
the first settlement of the country, in common with 
the British. As to the Banks of Newfoundland, and 
other fishing grounds in that quarter, they had shared 
in the wars for maintaining and extending the lib- 
erty of fishing there, and in this view they possessed 
the same title to it as the inhabitants of Great Brit- 
ain. They had not forfeited it by the Revolution, any 
more than they had forfeited the right to navigate 
their own bays and rivers. In short, the case was 
so plain, that no difficulty was made about it at the 
beginning of the negotiation; for we have seen, that 
it was included in the necessary articles first proposed 

jEt. 76.] life of franklin. 485 

by Dr. Franklin. No objection was then made to 
it; and, in fact, Mr. Oswald was instructed to admit 
this article. 

When, however, the negotiation seemed nearly at 
a close, the various propositions in the treaty having 
been carried back and forth by messengers between 
Paris and London, an effort was unexpectedly made 
by the British ministry to extort better terms. They 
now revived the question of the boundaries ; but it 
was their great object to obtain compensation for the 
loyalists, or Tories, whose property had been confis- 
cated, and many of whom had been banished from 
the country. If this could not be done, it was their 
next object to retain the fisheries as an equivalent. 
Mr. Strachey went over to Paris, and he and Mr. 
Fitzherbert united their forces with Mr. Oswald to 
push these points with all their might At this time 
Mr. Adams had joined his colleagues, having arrived 
in Paris near the end of October, a month before the 
treaty was signed. Coming fresh to the conflict, he 
exerted himself on every point with his usual ardor 
and energy ; and the British claim to the fisheries, 
in particular, was resisted by him with great strength 
of argument and a determined spirit. 

In regard to the loyalists, none of the American 
commissioners ever gave the least hope, that any thing 
could be done in their favor. Dr. Franklin discarded 
the idea, most pointedly, in his first conversations with 
Mr. Oswald. The commissioners had no power to 
act in the case ; Congress had none. The property 
of the loyalists had been confiscated by the States, 
and the remedy, if any, must be sought from the 
States. An article in the treaty, to this effect, would 
not be binding; it would not be regarded. Besides, 
neither justice nor humanity required, that the Ameri- 


486 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

cans should compensate these people. They had 
been the principal cause of the war, and instrumental 
in promoting and aggravating some of its worst hor- 
rors; they had taken the lead in burning towns, and 
plundering and distressing the inhabitants; they had 
deserted their country's cause, and sacrificed every 
thing to their friendship for their country's foes ; and, 
if they were to be indemnified by anybody, it must 
be by their friends. Such were the sentiments of Dr. 
Franklin, which he maintained to the last, and in which 
he was firmly supported by his colleagues. 

They would not listen to any proposal in the shape 
of an indemnification; and they said, that, if such an 
article were insisted on, it must be accompanied by 
another, which would destroy its effect, and probably 
turn the advantage to the other side. An account 
should be prepared in America of all the damages 
done by the loyalists, and an account of their losses 
should be exhibited, and examined by commissioners 
mutually chosen for the purpose. These two ac- 
counts should be set against each other. If a bal- 
ance were found in favor of the loyalists, it should be 
paid by the Americans ; if the balance were against 
them, it should be paid to the United States by the 
British government. 

This suggestion was not relished by the British en- 
voys ; and they finally declared, that, unless the loyal- 
ists were indemnified and the fisheries contracted with- 
in the limits prescribed by them, the treaty must go 
back again to London for the consideration of the 
ministry. Dr. Franklin then produced a new article, 
which he desired might be sent with it; the sub- 
stance of which was, that his Britannic Majesty should 
recommend to Parliament to make compensation to 
the Americans for all the goods taken from them by 

^Et. 76.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 487 

the British army during the war, for the tobacco, rice, 
indigo, and negroes that had been plundered, for the 
vessels and cargoes seized before the declaration of 
war against the United States, and for all the towns, 
villages, and farms, that had been burned and de- 
stroyed by his troops. 

The tone of the British commissioners was softened 
by this formidable proposition. Nothing more was said 
about sending the treaty to London. It appeared, in- 
deed, that they had a discretionary power to sign the 
treaty, even if they should fail to gain these two points 
of compensation to the loyalists and the new claim 
to the fisheries. The ministry had always intended 
to give them up, if they could do no better. An ar- 
ticle was inserted, however, by which Congress were 
to recommend an indemnification of the loyalists to 
the States; but it was declared, at the same time, 
that there was not the least probability that the States 
would take any notice of this recommendation. By 
another article it was agreed, that there should be no 
legal impediment, on either side, to the collection of 
debts contracted before the war. These two articles, 
even in this limited shape, were regarded as impor- 
tant by the ministry, because they would appease the 
clamors of the British creditors, and of the loyalists, 
and thus disarm the opposition, in some degree, of 
the weapons with which it was foreseen the treaty 
would be assailed on the meeting of Parliament. 

It may be added, also, that the commercial article, 
which Dr. Franklin proposed in his first sketch, and 
which Mr. Jay afterwards assisted him to mature, was 
not introduced. The treaty was merely a treaty of 
peace. Commercial regulations were left for a future 
arrangement. The whole business was at length con- 
cluded, and the original demands of the American 

488 LIFE OF FRANKLIN, [1782. 

commissioners, in every essential point, were allowed 
and confirmed. The treaty was signed at Paris by 
both parties in due form, on the 30th of November, 
1782. It was approved and ratified by Congress, and 
received with joy by the people ; and the commis- 
sioners had the satisfaction, which has rarely fallen to 
the lot of negotiators, of finding their w T ork applauded 
by the unanimous voice of a whole nation.* 

* Lord Brougham, in his sketch of the character of Mr. Wedder- 
burn, afterwards Lord Loughborough, recently published, has unguard- 
edly repeated a false report, respecting the signing of the treaty, which 
was circulated soon after that event, but promptly refuted. In allud- 
ing to Mr. Wedderburn's abusive speech against Dr. Franklin before 
the Privy Council, Lord Brougham says ; " It is well known, that, when 
the ambassadors were met to sign the peace of Versailles, by which 
the independence of America was acknowledged, Franklin retired, in 
order to change his dress and affix his name to the treaty in those gar- 
ments, which he wore when attending the Privy Council, and which 
he had kept by him for the purpose many years." This statement is 
entirely erroneous. The report was fabricated in England, at a time 
when the treaty was a topic of vehement discussion ; and it was ea- 
gerly seized upon to gratify the malevolence of a disappointed party. 
When it appeared in print, it was immediately contradicted by Mr. White- 
foord, who was present at the signing of the treaty, and affixed his name 
to it, as the secretary to the English commissioner. " This absurd sto- 
ry," says Mr. Whitefoord, "has no foundation but in the imagination 
of the inventor. He supposes that the act of signing the peace took 
place at the house of Dr. Franklin. The fact is otherwise; the con- 
ferences were held, and the treaty was signed, at the hotel of the Brit- 
ish commissioner, where Dr. Franklin and the other American commis- 
sioners gave their attendance for that purpose. The court of Versailles 
having at that time gone into mourning for the death of some German 
prince, the Doctor of course was dressed in a suit of black cloth; and 
it is in the recollection of the writer of this, and also he believes of 
many other people, that when the memorable philippic was pronounced 
against Dr. Franklin in the Privy Council, he was dressed in a suit 
of figured Manchester velvet" See the whole of Mr. Whitefoord's letter 
in the Gentleman's Magazine, for July, 1785, p. 561. The error may have 
arisen from the circumstance, stated on the authority of Silas Deane and 
Edward Bancroft, that, when the treaty of alliance between France and 
the United States was signed, Franklin was dressed in this suit of velvet 
See Vol. IV. p. 453. 





Mt.76.] life of franklin. 489 


Treaty signed without the Knowledge of the Court of France, con- 
trary to the Instructions from Congress, and to the Treaty of Alli- 
ance. —Count de Vergennes's Opinion of the Treaty. — Unfounded 
Suspicions. — Rayneval and Marbois. — Franklin's Explanation of the 
Grounds upon which he acted. — False Rumor concerning his Exer- 
tions in obtaining the Boundaries and Fisheries. — His Financial Con- 
tract with Count de Vergennes. — Negotiates a Treaty with Sweden. 

— Mr. Hartley. — Definitive Treaty of Peace signed. — Franklin's Sen- 
timents on this Occasion. — Appointed by the King of France one of 
the Commissioners for investigating the Subject of Animal Magnetism. 

— Negotiations. — His Request to be recalled is finally granted by 
Congress. — Mr. Jefferson succeeds him as Minister to France. — 
Treaty with Prussia. — Franklin prepares to return Home. — Journey 
from Passy to Havre de Grace. — Sails from Southampton and arrives 
in Philadelphia. 

The most remarkable circumstance attending the 
treaty of peace remains to be noticed. The Ameri- 
can envoys not only negotiated it without consulting 
the court of France, but signed it without their knowl- 
edge, notwithstanding they were pointedly instructed 
by Congress, "to make the most candid and confi- 
dential communications upon all subjects to the min- 
isters of our generous ally, the King of France, and 
to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or 
truce without their knowledge and concurrence ; " and 
notwithstanding the pledge in the treaty of alliance, 
"that neither of the two parties should conclude ei- 
ther truce or peace with Great Britain, without the 
formal consent of the other first obtained." It is true, 
that the treaty was only provisional, and was not to 
be ratified until France had likewise concluded a trea- 
ty ; but this reservation did not alter the nature of 
the act. When the American treaty was signed, it 
was not known to the commissioners what progress 

vol. i. 62 

490 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

had been made by the French in their negotiation, 
or whether it was likely to be completed, or the war 
to continue. There was also a separate article, which 
was not intended to be communicated to the French 
at all, concerning the southern boundary of the United 
States, in case West Florida should be given up to 
the British in their treaty with Spain. 

It was not strange, that Count de Vergennes should 
complain of this procedure, and express himself with 
some degree of indignation when it was told to him, 
without any previous notice of such an intent, that the 
treaty had been signed. The commissioners, as a 
body, offered no explanation. This task was laid upon 
Dr. Franklin, who executed it as well as he could, 
and with such success as to soften the displeasure of 
the French court. Entire satisfaction was not to be 
expected; indeed, it could not be given. The feel- 
ings of Count de Vergennes on this occasion, and his 
opinion of the treaty, may be gathered from a confi- 
dential letter, written by him to M. de la Luzerne 
three weeks after the treaty was signed, and commu- 
nicating the first intelligence of that event. 

"With this letter," says Count de Vergennes, "I 
have the honor to send you a translation of the pre- 
liminary articles, which the American plenipotentiaries 
have agreed to and signed with those of Great Britain, 
to be made into a treaty, when the terms of peace 
between France and England shall be settled. You 
will surely be gratified, as well as myself, with the 
very extensive advantages, which our allies, the Amer- 
icans, are to receive from the peace; but you cer- 
tainly will not be less surprised than I have been, at 
the conduct of the commissioners. I have informed 
you, that the King did not seek to influence the ne- 
gotiation, any further than his offices might be neces- 

jEt.76.] life of franklin. 491 

sary to his friends. The American commissioners will 
not say, that I have wearied them with my curiosity. 
They have cautiously kept themselves at a distance 
from me. 

" This negotiation is not yet so far advanced in re- 
gard to ourselves, as that of the United States ; not 
that the King, if he had shown as little delicacy in 
his proceedings as the American commissioners, might 
not have signed articles with England long before 
them. There is no essential difficulty at present be- 
tween France and England ; but the King has been 
resolved that all his allies should be satisfied, being 
determined to continue the war, whatever advantage 
may be offered to him, if England is disposed to 
wrong any one of them. 

"We have now only to attend to the interests of 
Spain and Holland. I have reason to hope, that the 
former will be soon arranged. The fundamental points 
are established, and little remains but to settle the 
forms. I think the United States will do well to make 
an arrangement with Spain. They will be neighbours. 
As to Holland, I fear her affairs will cause embarrass- 
ments and delays. The disposition of the British min- 
istry towards that republic appears to be any thing 
but favorable. 

" Such is the present state of things. I trust it will 
soon be better; but, whatever may be the result, I 
think it proper that the most influential members of 
Congress should be informed of the very irregular con- 
duct of their commissioners in regard to us. You 
may speak of it not in the tone of complaint. I ac- 
cuse no person ; I blame no one, not even Dr. Frank- 
lin. He has yielded too easily to the bias of his col- 
leagues, who do not pretend to recognise the rules of 
courtesy in regard to us. All their attentions have 

492 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

been taken up by the English, whom they have met 
in Paris. If we may judge of the future from what 
has passed here under our eyes, we shall be but 
poorly paid for all that we have done for the United 
States, and for securing to them a national existence. 

"I will add nothing, in respect to the demand for 
money, which has been made upon us. You may 
well judge, if conduct like this encourages us to make 
demonstrations of our liberality ." 

There is no disguise in this letter; and we learn 
from it the precise sentiments of the French court in 
relation both to the treaty and to the conduct of the 
commissioners. On this latter head, it manifests no 
want of sensibility; and, on the former, not even a 
hint is thrown out, that the treaty included privileges 
with which the French were displeased, or which they 
had intended to claim in their treaty with England. 
On the contrary, the minister expresses his gratifica- 
tion, that the Americans had gained such very exten- 
sive advantages. And it may be added, that, notwith- 
standing the intimation at the close of the above ex- 
tract, the King of France had already resolved to 
grant to the United States a new loan of six millions 
of livres for the coming year, and his purpose was 
not changed. 

After all these facts, it may be asked what motive 
could induce the commissioners to act in a manner 
apparently so unjustifiable. This question may be 
answered by a single word, suspicio?i ; excited in the 
first instance by circumstances, which seemed to indi- 
cate some interested designs of the French ; and fo- 
mented, from the beginning to the end of the nego- 
tiation, by the British envoys. Count de Vergennes 
and the French minister in Philadelphia had uniformly 
urged moderation on the Americans, with respect to 

^Et. 76.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 493 

their claims to the boundaries and the fisheries; and 
they recommended compensation to the loyalists. The 
reason is obvious. The French had bound themselves 
to carry on the war, till a peace should be concluded, 
satisfactory to the Americans ; and they feared, that, if 
extravagant demands were put forth in negotiating a 
treaty, the pride of England would not yield to them, 
and that the war would be protracted on this account, 
after all the other powers had gained their ends and 
were desirous of peace. But it was suspected, that 
France could have no other aim, than to secure cer- 
tain advantages to herself at the expense of the Amer- 
icans. If such a scheme had been formed, would not 
the French ministers have been silent till the time of 
action, instead of making their sentiments known, as 
they did, openly and on many occasions during the 
war, both in America and in France. 

While the negotiation was pending, an incident oc- 
curred, which raised new suspicions, and tended to 
strengthen the old ones. M. de Rayneval, the princi- 
pal secretary under Count de Vergennes, went twice 
to London. It was immediately surmised by Mr. Jay, 
that these visits were inauspicious to the American 
treaty; and, in short, that M. de Rayneval was in- 
structed to enter into an agreement with Lord Shel- 
burne to divide the fisheries between England and 
France, and to curtail the boundaries of the United 
States, before the American treaty should be finished. 
There is a long despatch from Mr. Jay to Congress, 
in which he endeavours to establish these points by an 
accumulation of circumstances and conjectural evidence. 
But whatever his imagination may have suggested, 
which could render such a suspicion plausible, it had 
no just foundation in fact. M. de Rayneval's instruc- 
tions, his correspondence with Count de Yergennes 


494 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1782. 

while he was in London, and notes of his conversa- 
tions with Lord Shelburne, have been perused by 
the author of these pages ; and there is not one word 
in them relating to the American boundaries and fish- 
eries, except in two instances, in which Lord Shel- 
burne of his own accord mentioned the subject, and 
said he hoped the King of France would not sustain 
the unreasonable demands of the Americans. On both 
these occasions M. de Rayneval declined holding any 
discussion. Indeed, he . was expressly instructed, in 
case Lord Shelburne should speak to him on Amer- 
ican affairs, to declare, "that he had no authority to 
treat on these topics." * 

It was the main object of M. de RaynevaPs mis- 
sion to settle the difficulties in the Spanish treaty. 
Before Spain declared war against England, a secret 
convention was formed between France and Spain, 
in which the former engaged to prosecute the war 
jointly with the latter, till certain advantages should be 
gained, particularly the restoration of Gibraltar. But 
the time of peace had come, and Gibraltar was still 
in the hands of the English. This subject caused a 
great deal of trouble in adjusting the Spanish treaty. 

Again, the British envoys, perceiving these suspi- 
cions, took care to make the most of them, and to 
effect as wide a separation as they could between the 
Americans and the French. They produced an inter- 
cepted letter, written by M. de Marbois, secretary of 
the French legation in Philadelphia, whilst the minister 
himself was absent on a visit to the American army. 
This letter contained heretical doctrines about the fish- 
eries, and it was assumed to be a ministerial document ; 

* See Mr. Jay's despatch in the Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. VIII 
p. 129; and remarks upon it, p. 208. Also, North American Review, 
Vol. XXX. p. 22. 

JEt.76.] life of franklin. 495 

whereas, it was written by the secretary without au- 
thority, and was merely an exposition of his private 
sentiments, accompanied by facts of a very dubious 
character, which are now known to have been derived 
from a source deserving little confidence. These cir- 
cumstances not being understood at that time, the let- 
ter had much weight in confirming the suspicions that 
already existed.* 

It is to be observed, however, that the commission- 
ers were unanimous in the course they pursued. But 
they never pretended to give any other reasons for 
their conduct, than such as were founded on inferen- 
ces, conjectures, and unexplained appearances. No di- 
rect or positive proofs were adduced, and nothing is 
now hazarded in saying, that no such proofs will ever 
be brought to light. The French court, from first to 
last, adhered faithfully to the terms of the alliance. Not 
that they had any special partiality for the Americans, 
or were moved by the mere impulse of good will and 
friendship, unmixed with motives of interest. Why 
should this be expected? When was entire disinter- 
estedness ever known to characterize the intercourse 
between nations? But no fact in the history of the 
American Revolution is more clearly demonstrable, than 
that the French government, in their relations with the 
United States, during the war and at the peace, main- 
tained strictly their honor and fidelity to their en- 

* There is a curious passage in Coxe's History of the House of Au- 
stria, which shows the designs of the British commissioners, and the kind 
of influence which was supposed to be exercised by them. "Mr. Fitz- 
herbert," says this historian, "fulfilled his delicate office with great abil- 
ity and address. While he treated with Vergennes, he succeeded in 
alarming Franklin, Adams, and Jay, and prevailed on them to sign sep- 
arate and provisional articles, which severed America from France." 
-Vol. V. p. 327, 2d. ed. 

496 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1783. 

gagements ; nay, more, that they acted a generous, and, 
in some instances, a magnanimous part* 

In a letter to Mr. Livingston, secretary of foreign 
affairs, Dr. Franklin explains the grounds upon which 
he united with his colleagues in signing the treaty. 

" I will not now take it upon me," he observes, " to 
justify the apparent reserve respecting this court, at 
the signature, which you disapprove. I do not see, 
however, that they have much reason to complain of 
that transaction. Nothing was stipulated to their prej- 
udice, and none of the stipulations were to have force, 
but by a subsequent act of their own. I suppose, in- 
deed, that they have not complained of it, or you 
would have sent us a copy of the complaint, that we 
might have answered it. I long since satisfied Count 
de Vergennes about it here. We did what appeared 
to all of us best at the time, and, if we have done 
wrong, the Congress will do right, after hearing us, to 
censure us. Their nomination of five persons to the 
service seems to mark, that they had some depen- 
dence on our joint judgment, since one alone could 
have made a treaty by direction of the French min- 
istry as well as twenty. 

" I will only add, that, with respect to myself, neither 
the letter from M. de Marbois, handed us through the 
British negotiators (a suspicious channel), nor the con- 

* The treaties between France, Spain, and England, were not com- 
pleted till seven weeks after the signing of the American treaty. By the 
special invitation of Count de Vergennes, the American commissioners 
were present when those treaties were signed at Versailles. Mr. Wil- 
mot, in a treatise written under the direction of the British government, 
concerning the losses and claims of the loyalists, says, that, after hav- 
ing seen the correspondence of the British commissioners at Paris with 
the ministers at home, "he can assert with confidence, that the court 
of Versailles absolutely refused to come to any treaty or decision at all, 
till the American commissioners were completely satisfied.'' — Wilmot's 
Historical View, &c, p. 37. 

Mr. 77.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 497 

versations respecting the fishery, the boundaries, the 
royalists, &c, recommending moderation in our de- 
mands, are of weight sufficient in my mind to fix an 
opinion, that this court wished to restrain us in obtain- 
ing any degree of advantage we could prevail on our 
enemies to accord ; since those discourses are fairly re- 
solvable, by supposing a very natural apprehension, that 
we, relying too much on the ability of France to con- 
tinue the war in our favor, and supply us constantly 
with money, might insist on more advantages than the 
English would be willing to grant, and thereby lose 
the opportunity of making peace, so necessary to all 
our friends." 

A rumor was circulated in America, not long after 
the signature of the treaty, that Dr. Franklin was 
lukewarm about the boundaries and fisheries, and 
that he was even willing to conclude a treaty without 
securing these advantages to his country. His friend, 
Dr. Cooper of Boston, informed him of this rumor, 
and of its tendency to injure his character. Such a 
charge, considering that he had originally proposed 
these articles as essential, and had zealously supported 
them to their fullest extent in every stage of the ne- 
gotiation, appeared to him as ungrateful as it was un- 
just. He immediately wrote to the other commission- 
ers on the subject, enclosing an extract from Dr. 
Cooper's letter. " It is not my purpose," said he, " to 
dispute any share of the honor of the treaty, which 
the friends of my colleagues may be disposed to give 
them ; but, having now spent fifty years of my life in 
public offices and trusts, and having still one ambition 
left, that of carrying the character of fidelity at least 
to the grave with me, I cannot allow that I was be- 
hind any of them in zeal and faithfulness. I there- 
fore think, that I ought not to suffer an accusation, 

vol. i. 63 pp* 

498 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1783 

which falls little short of treason to my country, to 
pass without notice, when the means of effectual vin 
dication are at hand. You, Sir, were a witness of my 
conduct in that affair. To you and my other col- 
leagues I appeal, by sending to each a similar letter 
with this; and I have no doubt of your readiness to 
do a brother commissioner justice, by certificates that 
will entirely destroy the effect of that accusation." 
Mr. Jay replied; "I have no reason whatever to be- 
lieve, that you were averse to our obtaining the full ex- 
tent of boundary and fishery secured to us by the 
treaty. Your conduct respecting them, throughout the 
negotiation, indicated a strong, a steady attachment to 
both those objects, and in my opinion promoted the 
attainment of them." And further; "I do not recol- 
lect the least difference of sentiment between us re- 
specting the boundaries or fisheries. On the contra- 
ry, we were unanimous and united in adhering to and 
insisting on them. Nor did I perceive the least dis- 
position in either of us to recede from our claims, or 
be satisfied with less than we obtained."* 

Whilst the treaty was in the course of negotiation, 

* Notwithstanding this declaration, so positive and full, we find the 
following extraordinary language in the Life of Jay, lately published. 
Speaking of the claims to the boundaries and fisheries, vthe author says; 
"Dr. Franklin never questioned either the justice or the importance of 
these claims, but he did question the propriety of making the success 
of these claims an ultimatum of peace, when Congress had not made 
it so." And again; "Urged on the one hand by France, and fettered 
on the other by his instructions, Franklin would, in all human probabil- 
ity, but with feelings of deep mortification and regret, have set his hand 
to a treaty, sacrificing rights, which he had himself ably and zealously 
maintained, and which he knew to be of inestimable value to his coun- 
try." — Life of John Jay, Vol. I. -pp. 153, 154. These charges, equal- 
ly unfounded and unsustained by proofs, may be regarded with the less 
surprise, when it is known that the author adopts all Mr. Jay's suspicions 
of the French court as historical facts, and appears to have acquired 
but a limited knowledge of the actual history of the negotiation. 

Mr. 77.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 499 

Count de Vergennes and Dr. Franklin entered into a 
contract, on the, 16th of July, fixing the time and 
manner of paying the loans, which the United States 
had received from France. The amount of these 
loans was then eighteen millions of livres, exclusive 
of three millions granted before the treaty of alliance, 
and the subsidy of six millions heretofore mentioned. 
These nine millions were considered in the nature of 
a free gift, and were not brought into the account. 
By the terms upon which the eighteen millions had 
been lent, the whole sum was to be paid on the 1st 
of January, 1788, with interest at five per cent. As 
it would be inconvenient, if not impracticable, for the 
United States to refund the whole at that time, the 
King of France agreed that it might be done by 
twelve annual payments, of a million and a half of li- 
vres each, and that these payments should not com- 
mence till three years after the peace. All the inter- 
est which had accrued, or which should accrue pre- 
viously to the date of the treaty of peace, amounting 
to about two millions of livres, was relinquished, and 
it was never to be demanded. This arrangement was 
generous on the part of the King, and highly advan- 
tageous to the United States. The contract was rati- 
fied by Congress. 

Some months before the treaty of peace was signed, 
Count de Creutz, the Swedish ambassador in Paris, 
called on Dr. Franklin, and said that his sovereign 
desired to conclude a treaty with Congress, whenever 
a minister should present himself for that purpose, 
invested with the usual powers. Sweden was thus 
the first European government, which voluntarily prof- 
fered its friendship to the United States, and the first 
after that of France, which proposed to treat before 
their independence was acknowledged by Great Britain. 

500 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1783. 

Dr. Franklin gave notice of this proposal to Congress, 
and he was furnished with a special commission to 
negotiate the treaty. It was finished within a few 
months, and signed by him and Count de Creutz at 

The provisional treaty of peace was violently as- 
sailed in the British Parliament, and became one of 
the principal causes of the dissolution of the cabinet 
under Lord Shelburne. The coalition ministry, which 
followed, probably hoped to obtain some favorable 
changes in the definitive treaty, or, at all events, to 
introduce modifications and commercial principles, which 
would render it more acceptable to the nation. Mr. 
Hartley was accordingly sent over to Paris, duly com- 
missioned by the King, and instructed to negotiate 
with the American envoys, not only "for perfecting 
and establishing the peace, friendship, and good un- 
derstanding so happily commenced by the provisional 
articles," but also "for opening, promoting, and ren- 
dering perpetual, the mutual intercourse of trade and 
commerce between the two countries." Mr. Hartley 
was the bearer of a letter from Mr. Fox, then one of 
the ministers, to Dr. Franklin, containing professions 
of personal friendship, and expressing a hope that the 
treaty of peace would terminate in a substantial re- 

A commercial article was proposed to Mr. Hartley 
by the American envoys, which they said they were 
ready to confirm. By this article it was agreed, that, 
whenever his Britannic Majesty should withdraw his 
fleets and armies from the United States, all the har- 
bours and ports should be open to British trading ves- 
sels in the same manner as to American vessels, and 
without any other charges or duties. It was required, 
as a reciprocal privilege, that American vessels should 

^Et. 77.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 501 

be admitted on the same footing into British ports. 
Mr. Hartley was not prepared to assent to this pro- 
posal. He represented the Navigation Act as .a bar- 
rier to such an arrangement, and proposed that the 
commerce between the two countries should stand on 
the same basis as before the war; adding, that this 
was only a temporary provision, which might be grad- 
ually matured into a more complete compact. The 
West India trade offered other embarrassments. In 
short, after four months' negotiation, nothing was ac- 
complished. All the propositions went to the minis- 
ters, and were returned with unsatisfactory answers. 
The American commissioners drew up a series of new 
articles, chiefly relating to commerce, which they were 
willing should be inserted, and which embraced Dr. 
Franklin's philanthropic scheme for protecting private 
property in time of war, and for suppressing the prac- 
tice of privateering. None of them was accepted ; and 
the preliminary articles were finally adopted as the 
definitive treaty, and signed as such at Paris on the 
3d of September, 1783. 

It was expected that the treaties between England, 
France, and Spain, and the one between England and 
the United States, would be signed at the same time 
and place. A day was appointed for performing the 
ceremony at Versailles. But Mr. Hartley declined 
signing at that place, and said his instructions con- 
fined him to Paris. The British government did not 
choose to allow even so slight an acknowledgment of 
the interference of the court of Versailles in their 
treaty with the Americans, as that of signing it in the 
presence of the French minister. Count de Ver- 
gennes offered no objection to this mode of proceed- 
ing, but he was resolved not to put his hand to the 
treaty of peace, till he was assured that the Ameri- 

502 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1784. 

cans had finished their work to their own satisfaction. 
At his request, therefore, the American envoys signed 
early in the morning with Mr. Hartley, and Dr. Frank- 
lin sent an express to Versailles communicating the 
intelligence to Count de Vergennes, who then signed 
the definitive treaty with the British ambassador. 

A short time afterwards, a commission arrived from 
Congress empowering Adams, Franklin, and Jay to 
conclude a commercial treaty with Great Britain. Com- 
munications passed between them and the British am- 
bassador in Paris on the subject. But nothing was 
effected under this commission, and it became more 
and more evident, that the British cabinet had no se- 
rious design of forming such a treaty. 

The definitive treaty was finally ratified by the two 
governments, and the drama of the Revolution was 
closed. The sentiments expressed by Dr. Franklin on 
this occasion, in a letter to his friend Charles Thom- 
son, are worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance 
by his countrymen. 

"Thus the great and hazardous enterprise we have 
been engaged in, is, God be praised, happily com- 
pleted; an event I hardly expected I should live to 
see. A few years of peace, well improved, will re- 
store and increase our strength; but our future safety 
will depend on our union and our virtue. Britain will 
be long watching for advantages, to recover what she 
has lost. If we do not convince the world, that we 
are a nation to be depended on for fidelity in treaties ; 
if we appear negligent in paying our debts, and un- 
grateful to those who have served and befriended us ; 
our reputation, and all the strength it is capable of 
procuring, will be lost, and fresh attacks upon us will 
be encouraged and promoted by better prospects of 
success. Let us, therefore, beware of being lulled into 

jEt. 78.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 503 

a dangerous security, and of being both enervated 
and impoverished by luxury; of being weakened by 
internal contentions and divisions; of being shamefully 
extravagant in contracting private debts, while we are 
backward in discharging honorably those of the public; 
of neglect in military exercises and discipline, and in 
providing stores of arms and munitions of war, to be 
ready on occasion ; for all these are circumstances that 
give confidence to enemies, and diffidence to friends; 
and the expenses required to prevent a war are much 
lighter than those that will, if not prevented, be abso- 
lutely necessary to maintain it." 

Public attention in France was at this time so 
much excited by the pretended wonders of animal 
magnetism, that the government deemed it a proper 
subject for scientific inquiry. Geslon, a disciple and 
partner of Mesmer, by his experiments and artifices 
drew around him a multitude of followers, whose cre- 
dulity he turned to a profitable account. Nine com- 
missioners, selected from the members of the Royal 
Academy and of the Faculty of Medicine, were ap- 
pointed by the King to investigate the subject. Dr. 
Franklin was placed at their head. They were em- 
ployed at various times in their examinations from 
March, 1784, till the following August. Numerous ex- 
periments were performed in their presence, and all 
the most extraordinary cases were subjected to their 
inspection. Dr. Franklin himself was magneztied, but 
without effect. Every opportunity was allowed to 
Geslon to establish his facts and illustrate his prin- 
ciples. After a patient and protracted investigation, 
the details of which were embodied in an elaborate 
and interesting report by M. Bailly, the commissioners 
were unanimous in the opinion, that no proof had been 
given of the existence of a distinct agent, called an- 

504 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1784. 

imal magnetism, and that all the effects, which had 
been exhibited, might be produced and explained by 
the ordinary action of the imagination upon the ner- 
vous system. 

Just before the inquiry commenced, Dr. Franklin 
wrote thus to M. de la Condamine ; " As to the ani- 
mal magnetism, so much talked of, I must doubt its 
existence till I can see or feel some effect of it. None 
of the cures said to be performed by it have fallen 
under my observation, and there are so many dis- 
orders which cure themselves, and such a disposition 
in mankind to deceive themselves and one another on 
these occasions, and living long has given me so fre- 
quent opportunities of seeing certain remedies cried 
up as curing every thing, and yet soon after totally 
laid aside as useless, I cannot but fear that the ex- 
pectation of great advantage from this new method 
of treating diseases will prove a delusion. That ' de- 
lusion may, however, and in some cases, be of use 
while it lasts. There are in every great, rich city a 
number of persons, who are never in health, because 
they are fond of medicines, and always taking them, 
whereby they derange the natural functions, and hurt 
their constitution. If these people can be persuaded 
to forbear their drugs, in expectation of being cured 
by only the physician's finger, or an iron rod pointing 
at them, they may possibly find good effects, though 
they mistake the cause." Again, somewhat later, in a 
letter to Dr. Ingenhousz, he said; "Mesmer is still 
here, and has still some adherents and some practice. 
It is surprising how much credulity still subsists in the 
world. I suppose all the physicans in France put to- 
gether have not made so much money, during the 
time he has been here, as he alone has done. And 
we have now a fresh folly. A magnetizer pretends, 

Mr. 79.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 505 

that he can, by establishing what is called a rapport 
between any person and a somnambule, put it in the 
power of that person to direct the actions of the som- 
nambule, by a simple strong volition only, without 
speaking or making any signs ; and many people daily 
flock to see this strange operation." 

Mr. Jay having returned to the United States, his 
place was supplied by Mr. Jefferson, who was joined 
with Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin in a new commis- 
sion for negotiating treaties of amity and commerce 
with the principal European powers. Mr. Jefferson 
arrived at Paris early in August. They jointly wrote 
a circular letter to the foreign ambassadors at the 
court of Versailles, proposing to treat with their re- 
spective governments, according to the terms prescribed 
by Congress. Prussia, Denmark, Portugal, and Tus- 
cany accepted the proposal, and negotiations were be- 
gun with the minister of each ; but no treaty was 
finally completed except with Prussia. The answers 
from all the ambassadors, however, manifested a friend- 
ly disposition on the part of their sovereigns, who of- 
fered to the vessels of the United States the same 
freedom of access to their ports, that was allowed to 
those of other nations.* 

For several months Dr. Franklin's time was chiefly- 
taken up with these transactions in conjunction with 
his colleagues. Since the peace, his duties as minis- 
ter plenipotentiary had become less burdensome. His 
correspondence was at all times a heavy task. During 
the war the relatives of the foreign officers, who served 
in America, wrote to him continually for information 
about their friends. Memoirs and projects innumera- 
ble were communicated to him on scientific subjects 

* An account of some private incidents, may be seen in the Appen- 
dix, No. V. 

VOL. I. 64 QQ, 

506 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1785. 

and particularly on politics, government, and finance. 
People all over Europe, proposing to emigrate to Amer- 
ica, applied to him for an account of the country and 
of the advantages it held out to new settlers, each ask- 
ing advice suited to his particular case. To diminish 
the trouble of answering these inquiries, and to diffuse 
such a knowledge of his country as might be useful to 
persons, who intended to settle there, he wrote a 
pamphlet entitled Information to those who would re- 
move to Jtmerica, which he caused to be printed and 
distributed. It was translated into German by Rodolph 
Valltravers. In some instances he was much annoyed 
by correspondents, who had no claims upon him, and 
who wrote to him upon all sorts of subjects. It was 
published in a newspaper, that Dr. Franklin knew a 
sovereign remedy for the dropsy. This was repeated 
far and near, and letters came from every quarter, be- 
seeching him to impart so invaluable a secret. 

His desire to return home, and to spend the remain- 
der of his days in the bosom of his family, increased 
upon him so much, that he repeatedly and earnestly 
solicited his recall. Deeming his services of great im- 
portance to his country, Congress delayed to comply 
with his request, and he submitted patiently to their 
decision. When he first asked permission to retire, he 
meditated a tour into Italy and Germany. Through 
his friend, Dr. Ingenhousz, physician to their Imperial 
Majesties, he received flattering compliments from the 
Emperor, and an invitation to visit Vienna. But he 
now found himself unable, from the infirmities of age 
and his peculiar maladies, to undergo the fatigues of 
so long a journey ; and his only hope was, that he 
might have strength to bear a voyage across the At- 

At length his request was granted, and Mr. Jeffer- 

,E T .79.] L1FE of franklin. 507 

son was appointed to succeed him as minister pleni- 
potentiary in France. His last official act was the 
signing of the treaty between Prussia and the United 
States. He was the more pleased with this act, as 
the treaty contained his philanthropic article against 
privateering, and in favor of the freedom of trade and 
of the protection of private property in time of war. 
The King of Prussia made no objection to this arti- 
cle. On the contrary, his ambassador, the Baron de 
Thulemeier, who signed the treaty, felicitated the com- 
missioners on its being introduced. "The twenty- 
third article is dictated," said he, " by the purest zeal 
in favor of humanity. Nothing can be more just than 
your reflections on the noble disinterestedness of the 
United States of America. It is to be desired, that 
these sublime sentiments may be adopted by all the 
maritime powers without exception. The calamities 
of war will be much softened ; and hostilities, often 
provoked by cupidity and the inordinate love of gain, 
will be of more rare occurrence." Free ships were 
.likewise to make free goods, and contraband mer- 
chandise was exempted from confiscation. He fondly 
hoped, that these benevolent principles would be 
wrought into the law of nations ; but the example 
has not been followed.* 

Before the treaty was completed, he began to 
prepare for returning to America. He had resided 

* Washington spoke of this treaty in terms of high commendation. 
In a letter to Count de Rochamheau he said ; " The treaty of amity, 
which has lately taken place between the King of Prussia and the 
United States, marks a new era in negotiation. It is the most liberal 
treaty, which has ever been entered into between independent powers. 
It is perfectly original in many of its articles ; and, should its principles 
be considered hereafter as the basis of connexion between nations, it 
will operate more fully to produce a general pacification, than any 
measure hitherto attempted amongst mankind. " — July 31s£, 1786. 

508 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1785. 

eight years and a half in France. During that pe- 
riod he had been constantly engaged in public affairs 
of the greatest importance. As the champion of lib- 
erty he was known everywhere, and as a philoso- 
pher and sage he was revered throughout Europe. 
No man had received in larger measure the homage 
of the wise and great, or more affectionate kindness 
from numerous personal friends. His departure was 
anticipated with regret by them all. One after anoth- 
er they took their leave . of him. The principal per- 
sonages of the court testified their respect and their 
good wishes. "I have learned with much concern," 
said Count de Vergennes, "of your retiring, and of 
your approaching departure for America. You cannot 
doubt but that the regrets, which you will leave, will 
be proportionate to the consideration you so justly en- 
joy. I can assure you, Sir, that the esteem the King 
entertains for you does not leave you any thing to 
wish, and that his Majesty will learn with real satis- 
faction, that your fellow citizens have rewarded, in a 
manner worthy of you, the important services that you 
have rendered them. I beg, Sir, that you will pre- 
serve for me a share in your remembrance, and nev- 
er doubt the sincerity of the interest I take in your 
happiness." The Marquis de Castries, minister of 
marine, wrote to him; "I was not apprized, until 
within a few hours, of the arrangements you have 
made for your departure. Had I been informed of it 
sooner, I should have proposed to the King to order 
a frigate to convey you to your own country, in such 
a manner as would mark the consideration which you 
have acquired by your distinguished services in France, 
and the particular esteem which his Majesty entertains 
for you." 

His bodily infirmities were such, that he could not 

Mt. 79.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 509 

bear the motion of a carriage. He left Passy on the 
12th of July, in the Queen's litter, which had been 
kindly offered to him for his journey to Havre de 
Grace. This vehicle was borne by Spanish mules, 
and he was able to travel in it without pain or fa- 
tigue. He slept the first night at St. Germain. Some 
of his friends accompanied him. On the journey he 
passed one night at the chateau of the Cardinal de 
la Rochefoucauld, and another in the house of M. Hol- 
ker at Rouen ; and he received civilities and compli- 
mentary visits from many of the inhabitants at differ- 
ent places. The sixth day after leaving Passy he ar- 
rived at Havre de Grace.* 

From that port he passed over in a packet-boat to 
Southampton. Here he was met by Bishop Shipley 
and his family, Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, Mr. Alexan- 
der, and other friends whom he had known in Eng- 
land. He also found here his son, William, whom he 
had not seen for more than nine years. In the Rev- 
olution he had taken the side of the loyalists, and thus 
. estranged himself from his father. He was now resid- 
ing in England, where he spent the remainder of his 
life. Dr. Franklin continued at Southampton four days, 
till July 27th, when he embarked on board the Lon- 
don Packet, a Philadelphia vessel, commanded by Cap- 
tain Truxtun. After a voyage of forty-eight days, with- 
out any remarkable incident, he landed at Philadelphia, 
on the 14th of September. M. Houdon, the artist, 
whom he and Mr. Jefferson had employed to make a 
statue of Washington for the State of Virginia, was a 
passenger on board the same vessel. 

Dr. Franklin filled up his leisure during the passage 
by writing a long paper on Improvements in JYaviga- 

* See an account of the journey in the Appendix, No. VI. 

510 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1785. 

tion, and another on Smoky Chimneys, the former ad- 
dressed to M. Le Roy, and the latter to Dr. Ingen- 
housz. They were both read a few weeks afterwards 
to the American Philosophical Society, and were pub- 
lished in a volume of the Society's Transactions. They 
contain many ingenious hints and practical remarks, 
founded on philosophical principles, and illustrated with 
drawings and appropriate explanations. He also re- 
peated his experiments for ascertaining the temperature 
of the sea in the Gulf Stream. He supported the in- 
conveniences of the voyage better than he had ex- 
pected, and without any apparent injury to his health. 
When he landed at Market- Street wharf, he was greet- 
ed by a large concourse of the inhabitants, who at- 
tended him with acclamations to his own door. The 
joy of the people was likewise testified by the ringing 
of bells and the firing of cannon. 

£>r.79.] LIFE OP FRANKLIN. 511 


Receives congratulatory Letters and Addresses. — Chosen President of 
Pennsylvania, and holds the Office three Years. — His private Circum- 
stances. — Appointed a Delegate to the Convention for framing the 
Constitution of the United States. — -His Speeches in the Convention. 
— His Religious Opinions. — Extracts from Dr. Cutler's Journal, de- 
scribing an Interview with him. — President of the Society for Polit- 
ical Inquiries. — Neglect of Congress to examine and settle his Ac- 
counts. — Various Pieces written by him during the last Year of his 
Life. — His Illness and Death. — Funeral Ceremonies. — Tribute of 
Respect paid to him by Congress and other Public Bodies. — Con- 

As soon as his arrival was known, letters of con- 
gratulation were sent to him from all parts of the coun- 
try. General Washington and Mr. Jay were among 
the first to welcome him on this occasion. The As- 
sembly of Pennsylvania was then in session, and, the 
day after he landed, an address was presented to him 
by that body, in which they congratulate him, in the 
most cordial manner, on his safe return. "We are 
confident," they observe, "that we speak the senti- 
ments of this whole country, when we say, that your 
services, in the public councils and negotiations, have 
not only merited the thanks of the present generation, 
but will be recorded in the pages of history, to your 
immortal honor. And it is particularly pleasing to us, 
that, while we are sitting as members of the Assem- 
bly of Pennsylvania, we have the happiness of wel- 
coming into the State a person, who was so greatly 
instrumental in forming its free constitution." This was 
followed by similar addresses from the American Phi- 
losophical Society, and the Faculty of the University 
of Pennsylvania. To all of them he returned brief 
and appropriate answers. 

512 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1785. 

From some of his letters it would appear, that, when 
he left France, he looked upon his public life as at an 
end, and anticipated the enjoyment of entire tranquil- 
lity and freedom from care, after he should be again 
restored to the bosom of his family. In this expecta- 
tion, however, he was disappointed. He had been at 
home but a few days, when he was elected a mem- 
ber of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylva- 
nia. This was a preliminary step to a higher advance- 
ment ; for, when the Assembly met, in October, he 
was chosen President of the State, the office being 
equivalent to that of governor in the other States. The 
choice was made by the joint ballot of the Assembly 
and Council. Under the first constitution of Pennsyl- 
vania, no individual could serve in the Council, or hold 
the office of President, more than three successive 
years, and he was then ineligible for the four years 
following. Dr. Franklin was annually chosen President 
till the end of the constitutional term, and each time 
by a unanimous vote, except the first, when there was 
one dissenting voice in seventy-seven. This unanim- 
ity is a proof, that, notwithstanding his great age and 
his bodily infirmities, he fulfilled the duties of the sta- 
tion to the complete satisfaction of the electors. 

He was apparently at ease in his private circum- 
stances, and happy in his domestic relations. He occu- 
pied himself for some time in finishing a house, which 
had been begun many years before, and in which he 
fitted up a spacious apartment for his library. In 
writing to a friend, he said ; "I am surrounded by 
my offspring, a dutiful and affectionate daughter in 
my house, with six grandchildren, the eldest of whom 
you have seen, who is now at college in the next 
street, finishing the learned part of his education; the 
others promising, both for parts and good dispositions., 

Mt. 81.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 513 

What their conduct may be, when they grow up and 
enter the important scenes of life, I shall not live to 
see, and I cannot foresee. I therefore enjoy among 
them the present hour, and leave the future to Prov- 
idence." Again, to another correspondent he wrote ; 
" I am got into my niche, after being kept out of it 
twenty-four years by foreign employments. It is a 
very good house, that I built so long ago to retire 
into, without being able till now to enjoy it. I am 
again surrounded by my friends, with a fine family of 
grandchildren about my knees, and an affectionate, good 
daughter and son-in-law to take care of me. And, after 
fifty years' public service, I have the pleasure to find 
the esteem of my country with regard to me undi- 
minished." Much of his time was devoted to the so- 
ciety of those around him, and of the numerous visiters, 
whom curiosity and respect prompted to seek his ac- 
quaintance. His attachments to the many intimate 
friends he had left in Europe were likewise preserved 
by a regular and affectionate correspondence, in which 
.are manifested the same steadiness of feeling and en- 
larged benevolence, the same playfulness and charm 
of style, that are conspicuous in the compositions of 
his earlier years. 

He was elected one of the delegates from Pennsyl- 
vania to the Convention for forming the Constitution of 
the United States, which met at Philadelphia in May, 
1787, and continued in session four months. Although 
he was now in the eighty- second year of his age, and 
at the same time discharged the duties of President 
of the State, yet he attended faithfully to the business 
of the convention, and entered actively and heartily 
into the proceedings. Several of his speeches were 
written out and afterwards published. They are short, 
but well adapted to the occasion, clear, logical, and 

vol. i. 65 

514 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1787. 

persuasive. He never pretended to the accomplish- 
ments of an orator or debater. He seldom spoke in 
a deliberative assembly except for some special object, 
and then briefly and with great simplicity of manner 
and language. 

After the members of the convention had been to- 
gether four or five weeks, and made very little pro- 
gress in the important work they had in hand, on 
account of their unfortunate differences of opinion and 
disagreements on essential points, Dr. Franklin intro- 
duced a motion for daily prayers. " In the beginning 
of the contest with Britain," said he, " when we were 
sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room 
for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard ; 
and they were graciously answered. All of us, who 
were engaged in the struggle, must have observed fre- 
quent instances of a superintending Providence in our 
favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy 
opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of es- 
tablishing our future national felicity. And have we 
now forgotten that powerful Friend ? or do we imag- 
ine we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, 
Sir, a long time ; and, the longer I live, the more con- 
vincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs 
in the affairs of men. And, if a sparrow cannot fall 
to the ground without his notice, is it probable that 
an empire can rise without his aid ? We have been 
assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that, 'except the 
Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it/ 
I firmly believe this; and I also believe, that, without 
his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political 
building no better than the builders of Babel ; we 
shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, 
our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves 
shall become a reproach and a by-word down to fu- 

Mr. 81.] LIFE OP FRANKLIN. 515 

ture ages. And, what is worse, mankind may here- 
after, from this unfortunate instance, despair of estab- 
lishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to 
chance, war, and conquest. I therefore beg leave to 
move, that henceforth prayers, imploring the assist- 
ance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, 
be held in this assembly every morning before we pro- 
ceed to business ; and that one or more of the clergy 
of this city be requested to officiate in that service." 
The motion was not adopted, as " the convention, 
except three or four persons, thought prayers un- 

These remarks afford some insight into Dr. Frank- 
lin's religious sentiments. A good deal has been said 
on this subject, and sometimes without a due degree 
either of knowledge or charity. When Dr. Stiles, 
President of Yale College, questioned him about his 
religious faith, he replied as follows, only five weeks 
before his death ; " I believe in one God, the Creator 
of the universe ; that he governs it by his Providence ; 
that he ought to be worshipped ; that the most ac- 
ceptable service we can render to him is doing good 
to his other children ; that the soul of man is immor- 
tal, and will be treated with justice in another life 
respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be 
the fundamental points of all sound religion, and I re- 
gard them as you do, in whatever sect I meet with 
them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom 
you particularly desire, I think his system of morals 
and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the 
world ever saw, or is like to see ; but I apprehend it 
has received various corrupting changes, and I have, 
with most of the present Dissenters in England, some 
doubts as to his divinity ; though it is a question I 
do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it." 

516 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1787. 

This is the most explicit declaration of his faith, which 
is to be found anywhere in his writings ; and, although 
it is not very precise, yet it is far from that cold and 
heartless infidelity, which some writers have ascribed 
to him, and for which charge there is certainly no just 

Whatever may have been the tenor of his opinions 
on points of faith and doctrine, there are many evi- 
dences of his reverence for religion and for the insti- 
tutions of Christianity. In early life, he composed a 
little book of prayers, which he was in the habit of 
using in his devotions. At all times he was ready to 
contribute liberally towards the erection of churches ; 
and, during Whitefield's several visits to Philadelphia, 
he not only attended his preaching, but was his inti- 
mate companion and friend, having him sometimes as 
a lodger at his own house. Such was not the society, 
that an irreligious man would be likely to seek. In a 
letter of advice to his daughter, it was his solemn in- 
junction, that she should habitually attend public wor- 
ship. He wrote a Preface to an abridged edition of 
the Book of Common Prayer, in which he speaks im- 
pressively of the obligation and benefits of worship and 
other religious observances. When a skeptical writer, 
who is supposed to have been Thomas Paine, showed 
him in manuscript a work written against religion, he 
urged him earnestly not to publish it, but to burn it; 
objecting to his arguments as fallacious, and to his 
principles as poisoned with the seeds of vice, without 
tending to any imaginable good. It should, moreover, 
be observed, that no parts of Dr. Franklin's writings 
are hostile to religion ; but, on the contrary, it is the 
direct object of some of them to inculcate virtue and 
piety, which he regarded not more as duties of great 
moment in the present life, than as an essential pre- 


paration for the wellbeing of every individual in a 
future state of existence. 

It is deeply to be regretted, that he did not bestow 
more attention than he seems to have done on the 
evidences of Christianity ; because there can be little 
doubt, that a mind like his, quick to discover truth 
and always ready to receive it, would have been con- 
vinced by a full investigation of the facts and argu- 
ments adduced in proof of the Christian revelation ; 
and especially because the example of such a man is 
likely to have great influence with others. Yet, when 
one expresses this regret, or censures this indifference, 
it behoves him to exercise more justice and candor 
than have sometimes been used, in representing what 
he actually believed and taught. 

It had long been an opinion of Dr. Franklin, that 
in a democratical government there ought to be no 
offices of profit. The first constitution of Pennsylvania 
contained an article expressive of this sentiment, which 
was drafted by him. One of his speeches in the na- 
tional convention was on the same subject. " There 
are two passions," said he, "which have a powerful 
influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and 
avarice ; the love of power and the love of money. 
Separately, each of these has great force in prompting 
men to action ; but, when united in view of the same 
object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. 
Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, 
that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and 
they will move Heaven and earth to obtain it. The 
vast number of such places it is, that renders the Brit- 
ish government so tempestuous. The struggles for 
them are the true source of all those factions, which 
are perpetually dividing the nation, distracting its coun- 
cils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless and mischievous 


518 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1787. 

wars, and often compelling a submission to dishonor- 
able terms of peace. And of what kind are the men 
that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through 
all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the in- 
finite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the 
best' of characters ? It will not be the wise and mod- 
erate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men 
fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, 
the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in 
their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into 
your government, and be your rulers. And these, too, 
will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their 
situation ; for their vanquished competitors, of the same 
spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be 
endeavouring to distress their administration, thwart 
their measures, and render them odious to the peo- 
ple." He thought the pleasure of doing good by serv- 
ing their country, and the respect inspired by such 
conduct, were sufficient motives for true patriots to 
give up a portion of their time to the public, without 
a pecuniary compensation beyond the means of sup- 
port while engaged in the service. In his own case, 
he had an opportunity of putting these principles in 
practice. All the money he received as President 
of Pennsylvania for three years he appropriated to 
some object of public utility ; and, if the whole fifty 
years of his public life are taken together, it is be- 
lieved that his receipts, in the form of compensation 
or salaries, were not enough to defray his necessary 

The speech made by him at the close of the con- 
vention has been commended for its moderation, liberal 
spirit, and practical good sense. In the concluding part 
of that speech he says, "I consent to this constitution, 
because I expect no better, and because I am not 


sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had 
of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have 
never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within 
these walls they were born, and here they shall die. 
If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, 
were to report the objections he has had to it, and 
endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we 
might prevent its being generally received, and thereby 
lose all the salutary effects and great advantages re- 
sulting naturally in our favor among foreign nations, 
as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent 
unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any 
government, in procuring and securing happiness to 
the people, depends on opinion, on the general opinion 
of the goodness of that government, as well as of the 
wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, there- 
fore, for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and 
for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily 
and unanimously in recommending this constitution, 
wherever our influence may extend, and turn our fu- 
ture thoughts and endeavours to the means of having 
it well administered. On the whole, Sir, I cannot help 
expressing a wish, that every member of the conven- 
tion who may still have objections to it, would with 
me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infalli- 
bility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his 
name to this instrument." 

The following description presents an interesting pic- 
ture of Dr. Franklin's appearance and manner at this 
period of his life. It is an extract from a journal writ- 
ten by the Reverend Dr. Manasseh Cutler, of Hamil- 
ton, Massachusetts, who was distinguished as a scholar, 
and particularly as a botanist. While on a visit at 
Philadelphia, he called to pay his respects to Dr. 
Franklin. The extract is dated July 13th, 1787. 

520 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1787. 

"Dr. Franklin lives in Market Street. His house 
stands up a court, at some distance from the street. 
We found him in his garden, sitting upon a grass- 
plot, under a very large mulberry tree, with several 
other gentlemen and two or three ladies. When Mr. 
Gerry introduced me, he rose from his chair, took me 
by the hand, expressed his joy at seeing me, wel- 
comed me to the city, and begged me to seat myself 
close to him. His voice was low, but his countenance 
open, frank, and pleasing. . I delivered to him my let- 
ters. After he had read them, he took me again by 
the hand, and, with the usual compliments, introduced 
me to the other gentlemen, who are most of them 
members of the convention. 

"Here we entered into a free conversation, and 
spent our time most agreeably, until it was quite dark. 
The tea table was spread under the tree, and Mrs. 
Bache, who is the only daughter of the Doctor, and 
lives with him, served it out to the company. She 
had three of her children about her. They seemed 
to be excessively fond of their grandpapa. The Doc- 
tor showed me a curiosity he had just received, and 
with which he was much pleased. It was a snake 
with two heads, preserved in a large phial. It was 
taken near the confluence of the Schuylkill with the 
Delaware, about four miles from this city. It was 
about ten inches long, well proportioned, the heads 
perfect, and united to the body about one fourth of 
an inch below the extremities of the jaws. The snake 
was of a dark brown, approaching to black, and the 
back beautifully speckled with white. The belly was 
rather checkered with a reddish color and white. The 
Doctor supposed it to be full grown, which I think is 
probable; and he thinks it must be a sui generis of 
that class of animals. He grounds his opinion of its 

Mr. 81.] LIFE OF FRANKLIN. 521 

not being an extraordinary production, but a distinct 
genus, on the perfect form of the snake, the proba- 
bility of its being of some age, and there having been 
found a snake entirely similar (of which the Doctor has 
a drawing, which he showed us,) near Lake Cham- 
plain, in the time of the late war. He mentioned the 
situation of this snake, if it was travelling among 
bushes, and one head should choose to go on one 
side of the stem of a bush, and the other head should 
prefer the other side, and neither of the heads would 
consent to come back, or give way to the other. He 
was then going to mention a humorous matter, that 
had that day occurred in the convention, in conse- 
quence of his comparing the snake to America ; for 
he seemed to forget that every thing in the conven- 
tion was to be kept a profound secret. But the se- 
crecy of convention matters was suggested to him, 
which stopped him, and deprived me of the story he 
was going to tell. 

"After it was dark we went into the house, and 
he invited me into his library, which is likewise his 
study. It is a very large chamber, and high-studded. 
The. walls are covered with book-shelves, filled with 
books ; besides there are four large alcoves, extending 
two thirds the length of the chamber, filled in the 
same manner. I presume this is the largest and by 
far the best private library in America. He showed 
us a glass machine for exhibiting the circulation of the 
blood in the arteries and veins of the human body. 
The circulation is exhibited by the passing of a red 
fluid from a reservoir into numerous capillary tubes of 
glass, ramified in every direction, and then returning 
in similar tubes to the reservoir, which was done with 
great velocity, without any power to act visibly upon the 
fluid, and had the appearance of perpetual motion. 

vol. i. 66 RR* 

522 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1787. 

Another great curiosity was a rolling press, for taking 
the copies of letters or any other writing. A sheet of 
paper is completely copied in less than two minutes ; 
the copy as fair as the original, and without defacing 
it in the smallest degree. It is an invention of his 
own, extremely useful in many situations of life. He 
also showed us his long, artificial arm and hand, for 
taking down and putting up books on high shelves, 
which are out of reach ; and his great arm-chair, with 
rockers, and a large fan placed over it, with which he 
fans himself, keeps off the flies, &c, while he sits read- 
ing, with only a small motion of the foot ; and many 
other curiosities and inventions, all his own, but of 
lesser note. Over his mantel he has a prodigious 
number of medals, busts, and casts in wax, or plaster 
of Paris, which are the effigies of the most noted char- 
acters in Europe. 

"But what the Doctor wished principally to show 
me was a huge volume on botany, which indeed af- 
forded me the greatest pleasure of any one thing in 
his library. It was a single volume, but so large, that 
it was with great difficulty that he was able to raise 
it from a low shelf, and lift it on the table. But, .with 
that senile ambition, which is common to old people, 
he insisted on doing it himself, and would permit no 
person to assist him, merely to show us how much 
strength he had remaining. It contained the whole of 
Linnaeus's Sy sterna Vegetahilium, with large cuts of 
every plant, colored from nature. It was a feast to me, 
and the Doctor seemed to enjoy it as well as myself. 
We spent a couple of hours in examining this volume, 
while the other gentlemen amused themselves with 
other matters. The Doctor is not a botanist, but la- 
mented he did not in early life attend to this science. 
He delights in Natural History, and expressed an earn- 

^Et.8L] life of franklin. 523 

est wish, that I should pursue the plan that I had 
begun, and hoped this science, so much neglected in 
America, would be pursued with as much ardor here 
as it is now in every part of Europe. I wanted, for 
three months at least, to have devoted myself entirely 
to this one volume ; but, fearing lest I should be te- 
dious to him, I shut up the volume, though he urged 
me to examine it longer. 

"He seemed extremely fond, through the course of 
the visit, of dwelling on philosophical subjects, and 
particularly that of Natural History ; while the other 
gentlemen were swallowed up with politics. This was 
a favorable circumstance for me; for almost the whole 
of his conversation was addressed to me, and I was 
highly delighted with the extensive knowledge he ap- 
peared to have of every subject, the brightness of his 
memory, and clearness and vivacity of . all his mental 
faculties, notwithstanding his age. His manners are 
perfectly easy, and every thing about him seems to 
diffuse an unrestrained freedom and happiness. He 
has an incessant vein of humor, accompanied with an 
uncommon vivacity, which seems as natural and invol- 
untary as his breathing. He urged me to call on him 
again, but my short stay would not admit. We took 
our leave at ten, and I retired to my lodgings." * 

While the States were engaged in electing dele- 
gates to the convention, there was much speculation 
as to the results of this experiment, and political dis- 
cussions abounded in all parts of the country. Par- 
taking of the common impulse, a number of gentlemen 
in Philadelphia formed themselves into an association, 
called the Society for Political Inquiries, the design 
of which is well expressed by its name. Dr. Frank - 

# Communicated to the Editor by Mr. Caleb Emerson, who transcribed 
it from the original Journal. 

524 LIFE OF FRANKLIN. [1788. 

lin was chosen president, and the meetings were usu- 
ally held at his house. For some time they were well 
attended; various topics of general politics were dis- 
cussed; essays were written, and prize questions pro- 
posed. But, after having been in operation about two 
years, the society languished, and it was finally dis- 
solved by the tacit consent of the members. He was 
also president of a Society for alleviating the Miseries 
of Public Prisons. 

Dr. Franklin's third and last year's service, as Presi- 
dent of Pennsylvania, expired in October, 1788. After 
that time he held no public office, although he was 
often consulted on public measures. 

His sensibility seems to have been touched by the 
neglect of Congress to settle his acco